Fort Meade celebrated Earth Day 2023 on April 20 with a full slate of activities centered at Burba Lake. Fort Meade and the Garrison's Directorate of Public Works (DPW) stage the Earth Day event each year to bring awareness to the importance and value of the natural environment and celebrate outdoor spaces and the recreation and amenities they provide.
This year, the main event featured the planting of three new trees near Roberts Avenue, near Burba Lake's Pavilion II. All three trees are native to the Fort Meade environment. The trees included a Hornbeam, an Eastern Redbud and an Eastern Dogwood.
Julie Adkins, DPW Environmental Division's Natural Resources Program Manager, says the three trees were selected with a purpose, “We tried to choose trees that are native and provide a valuable habitat to the eco-system and can contribute to the beauty of Burba Lake.”
In his ceremony-opening remarks, Fort Meade Garrison Commander, Colonel Michael Sapp also stressed the importance of planting native species, “The other piece of these three trees that we're planting (today) are native species to the area. Why does that matter? Think about your grass and weeds. Weeds don't belong, generally....one of the ways to kill weeds is to attack it with chemicals, not the greatest thing for our environment, but it's a way....another way to get rid of the weeds is to increase and improve the growth of what should be there in the first place.”
Another highlight this year included the official designation of Burba Lake as a Monarch Butterfly migratory waystation. Adkins described the process for obtaining this designation. “A Monarch waystation is a designation run by the organization, Monarch Watch. Monarch Watch is run by the University of Kansas. It's a conservation organization that, in exchange for a donation to their conservation efforts, and you meet habitat requirements, you can designate yourself as a Monarch waystation. And due to the amount of shoreline, pollinator plants, particularly milkweed that we have around Burba Lake, we were able to certify ourselves as Monarch waystation."
The Earth Day Celebration also brought in representatives from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services. They put up displays presenting information on local plants and wildlife. Refreshments were provided by Fort Meade's water services contractor, American Water.