By SKIP VAUGHN

Rocket editor

skip.vaughn@theredstonerocket.com

As the nation celebrates Earth Day this Saturday and Arbor Day on April 28, Redstone has achieved perennial recognition for its environmental stewardship.

Redstone Arsenal has been named a 2022 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor its commitment to effective urban forest management. Redstone achieved this recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: maintaining a tree board or department, having a tree care ordinance, dedicating an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and hosting an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

“It’s our 16th year of being acknowledged as a Tree City USA community as a military installation. Most Tree Cities are municipalities,” Tom Richardson, branch chief of Cultural and Natural Resources within the Garrison’s Directorate of Public Works, said. “As a military installation, we’re a little out of the ordinary as a Tree City designation. But we clearly and easily meet the qualifications for that designation because we manage our forestry and timber as a renewable and sustainable resource.”

On this 45,000-acre installation, Redstone has approximately 11,000 acres of managed forest. “You can look at an aerial map like Google Earth and see that approximately half to two-thirds of the Arsenal has tree cover on it,” Richardson said.

Founded in 1976, Tree City USA is a partnership between the Arbor Day Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters. Redstone Arsenal is part of a network of more than 3,600 Tree City USA communities nationwide, with a combined population of 155 million.

Richardson described this designation’s significance as Earth Day arrives Saturday.

“I think that it acknowledges the U.S. Army and Redstone Arsenal as being a responsible party in the efforts against climate change and the direction toward environmental sustainment programs,” he said.

A new environmental outreach education facility is nearing completion. The Community Learning Center is adjacent to MWR Outdoor Recreation, down Sportman Drive near the intersection of Martin and Patton roads. It includes a classroom, nature trail and an observation deck for the wetlands. The $879,000 project, a collaboration of the Directorate of Public Works’ environmental and engineering divisions, is funded through the Army REFoRM initiative which rewards installations for saving energy.

“It’ll probably open by summer,” Rickey Hammond, the engineering division chief, said.