82nd CES environmental flight named best in AETC

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE -- The 82nd Civil Engineer Squadron's Environmental Flight was named best in the command this week when they received the Outstanding Environmental Flight Award.
Sheppard was number one out of 13 Air Education and Training Command bases and brought home the award, their first win since 1998. 

Many of the programs the environmental flight manages have become a standard for AETC and other major commands to use as a model to improve their base environmental programs. 

The Installation Restoration Program, which cleans up sites on base contaminated prior to 1984, was one of the areas where Sheppard's programs stood out. The environmental flight also supports the IRP programs at Goodfellow Air Force Base and Lackland Air Force Base, both in Texas. 

"All of Sheppard's IRP sites will close out at the end of fiscal year 2007, which means the base will have closed out all 18 of its sites ahead of AETC goals," said Tim Hunter, the base agronomist. 

Another highlight was the National Environmental Policy Act Program. It is a program mandated by federal law that requires the Air Force to notify the public of how it takes care of the environment. 

"Sheppard's NEPA program has become a standard all other AETC bases follow. We are the best in the command and one of the best in the Air Force. Other major commands are starting to call and ask how we do things as well," said Rick Milhollon, the lead environmental engineer and acting flight chief. 

The solid waste diversion program has risen from 28 percent to an average of 48 percent in the past year and a half, showing how the environmental flight is working to save the environment by recycling items before they go into the trash and on to a landfill. Another plus of the program is that the money made from recycling is returned to pay for the recycling services used on base. 

The hazardous waste program on base leads AETC with its 1,737 pounds of waste shipped off site in 2005. A recycle rate of 90 percent on hazardous waste shipped off site keeps the program as number one in its field. 

Even with multiple programs that lead the way for other bases success the environmental team was surprised at their win. 

"It was truly a shock. We did not expect it at all," said Mr. Milhollon. "We aren't in an area that has as many environmental programs as the bigger bases. 

Other bases have forestry, endangered species and large cultural and natural resource programs that require a lot of time and manpower. Sheppard is in a less environmental and human populated area. 

"Other bases have these programs but ours just run more smoothly and efficiently than others. We have become the model for the rest of the command and other commands in many areas," Mr. Hunter said. 

The environmental flight competes for the Air Force level award at the end of this year against winners from the other major commands.