On the Army’s 246th birthday, local news media spent time with members of the Fort Stewart Forestry Branch, to see firsthand why the installation’s Directorate of Public Works received two Army-level awards for excellence.
The June 14 event began with opening comments from the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, Col. Bryan Logan, where he discussed the installation’s recent recognition for environmental excellence by the Secretary of the Army with the 2020 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation for a Large Installation and the 2020 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for Cultural Resource Management for the team/individual category.
“We are one of the leading Department of Defense installations, not only for cultural resource management but also for forestry operations,” Logan said. “Our partnerships that we have with the local communities is what brings it all together. Most of the public doesn’t know that we have biologists, environmental management and archaeologists on our staff. They don’t just assist our Army, they are part of the Army team and that’s what makes us successful.”
Subject matter experts from the Directorate of Public Works environmental section escorted the group to a training area where they explained the purpose of controlled burns; management of the red-cockaded woodpecker population; and how the installation and surrounding communities benefit from flora and fauna management.
“Between our controlled burn program and our timber thinning and harvesting programs, our Environmental and Forestry divisions are able to support not just our Soldiers but the economy, the threatened and endangered species habitat, and the longleaf pine Wiregrass ecosystem in our area,” said Jeff Mangun, the DPW Forestry branch chief.
“During the two-year period of 2019 and 2020 the Fort Stewart Forestry branch burned over 230,000 acres of woods through our prescribed burn program,” Mangun said. “In addition, we thinned 5,500 acres worth of timber in the training areas, and approximately 250 acres in the containment area as part of the installation’s wildfire protection plan. We also planted about 240 acres worth of longleaf pine in an effort to restore the longleaf pine wiregrass ecosystem.”
The event closed with a visit to Taylors Creek Cemetery, one of Fort Stewart’s largest cultural resources, where the installation archaeologist, Brian Greer, explained the history and significance of the cemeteries and historical sites on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield.