MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- The future may be far away in most people's minds, but the base's Natural Resources Section personnel maintain the environment so their children and their children's children will enjoy the same resources people use today.
The Marine Corps goal is to "attain full and sustained environmental compliance and protection of our natural, cultural, and historic resources," according to a 1997 Marine Corps Environmental Awareness Guide.
The Natural Resources Section personnel maintain the natural areas that are part of the base's landscape, said Eddie Parramore, the Natural Resources manager here. Parramore and four others work to take care of the Indian Lake Wildlife Refuge, wooded areas and other natural areas of the base.
According to Parramore, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires the government to consider the environmental consequences of proposed major actions. The intent of the law is to protect, restore, or enhance the environment through well-informed federal decisions. Adhering to this directive, Parramore and the people in the section strive to take care of the base property and ensure that others do the same.
The base's Indian Lake Wildlife Refuge is home to many species of wildlife such as alligators, bats, wood storks, wood ducks, egrets and many others. These animals roam the more than 65 acres that are part of the cypress swamp and wetlands on base.
When the base was first established in 1952, a large number of trees were planted that today account for more than 1,400 acres of wooded areas and 200 acres of pecan groves, said Parramore. Natural Resources Section personnel ensure the wooded areas do not become a fire hazard by using controlled burns to reduce the underbrush of one-third of the areas annually. The burning stimulates plant growth in the Spring and reduces the danger of wildfires.
Along with controlled burning, Natural Resources Section personnel contract the harvesting of about 100 acres of pine trees every year or so, which gives the remaining trees more room to flourish. Parramore emphasized that the base only thins trees selectively and does not clear-cut entire areas of trees.
The base is also home to more than 200 acres of pecan trees, which are leased to a local farmer who maintains the trees and harvests the pecans annually. Pecans are a popular crop abundant in southwest Georgia.
Educating people on the importance of caring for the environment has always been a focus for the base. School children are taken on tours along a boardwalk that takes them across the southern end of the base's Indian Lake. This gives them a first-hand look at what the base is doing to protect and enhance natural resources. During these tours the Natural Resources Section's game wardens teach classes about the environment the visitors see. The children learn about the different animals in the area and how important it is to take care of them.
Besides educating school children, the game wardens patrol the woods and fields throughout the base ensuring no illegal activities occur, such as baiting wildlife. The game wardens also watch for downed trees and regularly enforce other rules and regulations here.
Another way the Natural Resource Section personnel strive to educate the community about the environment is by using fishing as a learning tool. For more than 10 years, the Natural Resources personnel have organized an annual Buddy Fishing Tournament at Covella Pond to give children a better appreciation of nature and natural resources. The pond is restocked annually with catfish, said Parramore.
According to the section's web site, Natural Resources Section personnel fertilize the pond to stimulate algae growth that provides an additional food source for fish and an oxygen rich habitat.
Along with taking care of fish, personnel add nesting boxes for bluebirds, Kestrel hawks, wood ducks, purple martins and swamp bats. This list of animals does not include the abundance of endangered species that are at home here. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects both plants and animals that are listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered, according to the Marine Corps Environmental Awareness Guide.
Protected species found here include the Bachman's sparrow, gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake, American alligator and the wood stork, according to the section's web site. The Eastern Fox Squirrel is also protected on base, but is not listed as endangered.
Personnel also plant food plots on more than 20 acres of environmental property for wildlife. Feeding the wildlife may spur increases to some species, but the people at the Natural Resources Section ensure that growth does not get out of hand. To help control the population of deer, the base grants bow-hunting permits during deer season.
Landscaping may not be considered a part of nature to some, but it is an integral part of the environmental properties here and an asset to wildlife in general. Personnel work hard to keep the base's landscape aesthetically pleasing by planting tree plots throughout the base. Right now, workers are planting trees in areas around Coffman Hall.
According to Parramore, this will help keep the parking areas cooler during the summer season and provides an additional natural resource.
The Natural Resources Section is just one facet of the vast scope of the base's commitment to take care of the environment.
Taking care of the environment enhances everyone's quality of life and makes the world a better place, said Parramore.
"If you don't take care of our natural resources, there won't be a future," said Parramore. "We try to be good stewards of the land."