The Fort Bragg Environmental Division applied for and received a grant from the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program to fund a pollinator garden project at the Directorate of Public Works classroom.

In 1990, Congress established the DoD Legacy Resource Management Program providing financial assistance to DoD efforts to preserve our natural and cultural heritage. The program assists the DoD in protecting and enhancing resources while supporting military readiness.

Legacy projects may involve ecosystem management initiatives, habitat preservation efforts, archaeological investigations, invasive species control, Native American consultations and pattern monitoring of migratory birds or animals. The legacy program follows three principles: stewardship, leadership, and partnership. These principles ensure resources are preserved for future generations and promote a model of respectful use of natural and cultural resources.

National Public Lands Day began in September 1994, with three sites and about 700 volunteers. In 2014, the event grew to over 2,100 sites with over 175,000 volunteers.

The DoD Legacy Resource Management Program partnered with National Public Lands Day in 1999. Through its Natural Resources Program, the DoD funds the National Environmental Education Foundation for National Public Lands Day projects on military lands open to the public for recreation. Since then, the program has distributed over $2 million to military lands for natural resources restoration initiatives associated with the event.

The program focuses special consideration on projects dedicated to pollinators. This year, Fort Bragg was one of 30 installations selected to receive funding from the NEEF DoD Legacy Grant.

The DPW classroom is a high visibility building serving a few thousand Soldiers and civilians each year, as well as the location of key environmental briefings for distinguished visitors such as the deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy, and the Environment).

A suggestion from the Fort Bragg Arbor Board for this location set the wheels in motion. The environmental education and outreach manager for Sustainable Fort Bragg agreed that the existing space was in need of some serious attention and suggested a pollinator garden as the perfect complement to the space.

Planting a pollinator garden also supports a new 2015 Presidential Memorandum promoting honey bees and other pollinators by creating pollinator habitat.

National Public Lands Day projects complement Fort Bragg land use objectives as well. Indeed, Fort Bragg lands are very important to our military, as well as our natural world.

“I believe it’s important to raise awareness and appreciation of our natural resources to our Soldiers and the surrounding community. When we engage our Soldiers and the community to work together, it brings about a partnership and a sense of camaraderie. We’re all striving for the same goals that directly benefit public lands, whether that’s replanting native vegetation, cleaning up our waterways or maintaining our trails,” said Paula Garcia, wildlife biologist. “The military mission and environmental restoration go hand-in-hand. By preserving, restoring and maintaining our natural communities, we’re also improving the quality of military training by ensuring the military has the availability of quality training lands on a sustained basis.”

For the DPW classroom National Public Lands Day project, Sept. 24, volunteers from the Fort Bragg community, Soldiers from Company B, 249th Engineer Battalion, and Environmental Management Branch staff removed invasive Chinese lespedeza, weeded, amended soil, raked, mulched and planted pollinator attractors. The volunteers transformed the neglected landscape into a haven for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

According to Sustainable Fort Bragg, the project will serve many purposes. First, the garden will enhance the natural ecosystem of Fort Bragg.

The installation continuously strives to protect our diverse ecosystem by maintaining longleaf pine habitats. However, the real challenge is the task of developing diversity in species in the cantonment area. “We should realize the importance of pollinators, especially with rising concerns over declining honeybee and other pollinator populations due to the loss of habitat and the introduction of invasive plant and animal species, as well as other unknown factors,” said Mindy Love. Therefore, the pollinator garden at the DPW classroom is designed to invite a wider variety of pollinators into our midst.

The pollinator garden will create an educational opportunity for the community and serve as a source of inspiration for the entire installation. The pollinator garden can be a living learning opportunity for the community and provide a tranquil break area for Soldiers and civilians. Additionally, the Fort Bragg Schools will be able to use the garden to supplement their learning by using it as an outdoor learning environment in support of their science, technology, engineering and math initiative.

The DPW classroom serves as the gateway to DPW and our environmental programs and briefs. “Because my husband was active-duty Army, we’ve lived all over the United States. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in National Public Lands Day numerous times. It never ceases to amaze me the number of volunteers who are willing to give their time and effort to improve and enhance our natural landscapes,” said Garcia. “These people, in each of their own way, have left a legacy for future generations to carry on and enjoy. Just as those before us and those still to come, we all have a responsibility to be good stewards of our earth,” she said. And that is what Sustainable Fort Bragg is all about!

For more information on Fort Bragg’s sustainability programs, visit www.facebook.com/sustainablefortbragg.