Members of base community assist with National Public Lands Day

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristina Overton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance public lands according to the National Environmental Education Foundation. Last year more than 150,000 volunteers across the country planted trees, shrubs and native plants, removed 900,000 pounds of litter and invasive plants, and contributed more than $14M to improve public lands across the nation. Since the observance began in 1994, participation continues to expand in the efforts to build a better environment. This year, volunteers from Malmstrom continued that legacy.

Air Force Global Strike Command servicemember volunteers, and members of Malmstrom's Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops along with parents gathered at Medal of Honor Park Sept. 25 in honor of NPLD. Mrs. Janelle Broach, Girl Scout Junior Troop 3135 leader, started the morning by reading a proclamation by President Barack Obama.

"From majestic mountain ranges to beloved neighborhood parks, Americans enjoy the natural places our ancestors have celebrated and protected for centuries," said President Obama in his NPLD proclamation. "Our public lands represent the American spirit and reflect our shared experience, our history, our culture, and our deep love for wild and beautiful places. Every September, thousands of Americans volunteer their time and talents to protect our parks, national forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands. National Public Lands Day is an occasion to join together in honor of our Nation's unique natural treasures."

After giving a few acknowledgements, the group split up to complete their separate projects. Cub Scout Troop 43 hustled over to Pow Wow Pond where they built bird houses to be placed around the park and different areas around the installation, and cleaned around the pond picking up trash and debris.

"The purpose of the boys making the bird houses was for migrating birds to have a safe and comfortable place to stay while they are passing through town," said Sherry Moad, Cub Scout Pack 43 committee chairperson. "They had a blast out there working with the wood and the power tools, and hopefully in the next year or so, they'll be able to see the birds using the houses they built."

After the Cub Scouts completed their bird houses, they walked around the pond picking up litter.

Also picking up litter, volunteers from the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron removed tires, fences and trash from the old all terrain vehicle trail near Pow Wow Pond.

"Doing things like this allow the boys to actually see the results of their contributions to the land around them instead of talking about it," Mrs. Moad said. "They can see what they are doing for the environment and hopefully gain a better understanding of what these projects are actually for."

Over at Medal of Honor Park, the Junior Girl Scouts broke ground for their own NPLD project beginning the initial phase in making a butterfly garden.

"The butterfly garden is the first of its kind in the state of Montana," said Mrs. Broach. "For this phase of the project, the girls removed some of the rocks and bushes, dug a bedding area and placed soil, compost and weed matting down. The project will be continuing in the springtime where we'll be planting herbs, flowers and vegetables that attract native butterflies, and laying identification cards so people can know what kind of plants they are."

The Girl Scouts will also be adding a natural rock bowl that will collect rainwater providing minerals and nutrients for the butterflies. The rock itself will provide a warm area for the butterflies to roost, or warm their wings so they can fly.

"NPLD is important because it provides a place where we can go and enjoy nature and have family time," Mrs. Broach said. "And with the cleanup and restoration we're doing, it's better for our environment as well. Each year we'll continue to do projects on the base, and hopefully they'll be around for people to enjoy for years to come."