News: 88th RSC celebrates Earth Day with ongoing initiatives
Story by Alun Thomas
FORT MCCOY, Wis. – Every year on April 22 Earth Day is recognized in an effort to bring awareness to environmental concerns and protection for the natural habitat.
Earth Day was the innovation of Wisconsin Gov. Gaylord Nelson, who began the project in 1970 and helped turn it into a global event, with millions participating worldwide.
Today the 88th Regional Support Command’s Environmental Division celebrates that initiative continuously by monitoring the strict regulations that govern how the Army Reserve utilizes its resources and adheres to prescribed guidelines.
The 88th RSC oversees more than 10,000 acres and 300 facilities over a nineteen state region, with 11 environmental protection specialists, said Dave Moore, chief of the environmental division, 88th RSC, all of who support Earth Day.
“We’ve had events in support of Earth Day in past years at our bigger facilities where we get the communities involved to support the Soldiers,” Moore said. “For us Earth Day is about the conservation and energy perspective, from turning off computers and lights at the end of the day and doing the best you can with recycling. Our units have been good supporting that effort.”
The efforts are constantly ongoing for the 88th RSC, Moore said, as they try to maintain environmental sustainability.
“Our agents manage thirty facilities a piece and they’ll go out and do assessments to help their units become compliant with policies and regulations,” Moore said. “My main role is to provide insight and management to all areas. It’s a large task and fast and vast environment. It’s always changing.”
Helping assist Moore is Melani Tescher, an environmental protection specialist with the 88th RSC, who leads the conservation branch of the division and makes sure training lands are up to the correct specifications.
“I’ll deal with the trees or weeds, any kind of invasive species and animals and historic buildings,” Tescher said. “I make sure we follow the Endangered Species Act or the Wetlands Act. This all has to be coordinated with the local government and state.”
Also key is the compliance branch, Tescher said, which deals with hazardous waste and material and make sure units are complying with the regulations enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Some of the challenges with this are the lack of understanding about what we do, therefore some don’t comply,” Tescher said. “We build relationships with the units to show we’re not here to hurt you; we’re here to help you. We go out of our way to assist them.”
The biggest challenge for Tescher currently is getting local training areas in the region into usable conditions.
“They’ve been neglected for a good while, so now we’re trying to get the woods opened up so we can do training in there,” Tescher said. “We go in there and spray, mow and chop things down. Lots of work is involved”
For Tescher Earth Day is vital for educating people on a variety of environmental issues, including wildlife and natural resources.
“It’s an opportunity to show people they can live with nature instead of trying to conquer it,” she said. “Earth Day is mainly about energy and recycling, but I look at it with a broader scope and I’m looking at earth as how we’re affecting it.”
“The Army Reserve has taken a good role in it and we’ve shown we’re not here to destroy anything-we try to restore things to their natural condition and that’s admirable,” Tescher said.