Suited up and ready for anything, a man in a yellow suit sits in a chair bolted to the bed of a pickup truck, ready to wreak havoc with a flame thrower in hand.
“Let’s do this thing,” he shouts as the truck begins to roll. Wielding the flame like a superhero, he set everything he torched ablaze.
The man: Col. Manny Ramirez.
The flame thrower: a wildfire suppressing terra torch.
Ramirez, the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, was participating in a prescribed burn demonstration during this quarter’s Environmental Quality Control Committee meeting.
Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison leadership, members of the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division’s Forestry Branch and Soldiers from across the installation attended the EQCC March 17 on Fort Stewart to learn more about the Forestry Branch and the role they play to help maintain readiness across the installation.
Required by Army Regulation 200-1, Environmental Protection and Enhancement, the quarterly EQCC is chaired by the garrison commander. Quarterly, senior mission commanders, directors and tenant leaders are required to attend the sessions to gain a better understanding of actions and programs that have environmental implications that affect the mission.
“After hosting the first couple EQCC meetings in the classroom, we realized that taking the committee members to different locations for a field trip-style approach to learning would leave a more lasting impression,” said Amanda Price, DPW Environmental public relations. “This way they get to see first-hand what our Environmental Division does to assist them in mission success on a daily basis.”
This quarter’s field trip landed attendees in the middle of a training area where they were able to learn about the installations forestry management program. Participants had the opportunity to listen to an overview brief and observed how the branch uses a terra torch in tandem with an aerial drop to begin and contain a prescribed burn.
“We have the largest forestry management program in the Department of Defense,” said Jeff Mangun, DPW Forestry Branch chief. “We routinely prescribe burn around 120,000 acres a year to ensure wildfire hazard reduction and to provide a safe training space for the Soldiers stationed here.”
The Fort Stewart burn program isn’t just the largest in the DoD. Mangun also said the installation’s prescribed burn program is actually the largest in all of North America.
Not only does the burn program provide a safe training area for our Soldiers, it also promotes a healthy ecosystem for the many threatened and endangered species that live in the area.
“In addition to supporting the military mission, we follow State and Federal regulations that help protect the threatened and endangered species in our area,” Mangun said. “When these species are identified in the area, training restrictions must be placed in order to ensure their protection. However, as their habitats become healthier and start to grow, those restrictions are removed which ultimately enhances the training opportunities across the installation.”
With a clearer knowledge of the program, attendees can now better perform their missions thanks to a better understanding of their environmental posture.
“The focus on environmental compliance is very important,” Ramirez said. “The hard work put forth by our Forestry Branch ensures that our Soldiers have ample space for training which in turn meets the mission requirements set forth by our current administration. Forestry management is something that’s been around a long time and is something that we will continue to strive to be the best at in order to maintain readiness across the installation.”
To learn more about the EQCC, contact Amanda Price at Amanda.email@example.com.