Fort Bragg……Tree City USA

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Fort Bragg received its’ 12th consecutive Tree City USA certification today at the Fort Bragg Arbor Day event.  Standards for Tree City USA recognition include having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, observing Arbor Day,  and passing an official Arbor Day proclamation.

Two red cedars were planted in the monument section of the Main Post parade field.

For further information on Tree City USA visit  https://www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA/about.cfm

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You are invited!

Come join us in celebrating Fort Bragg’s and North Carolina’s official Arbor Day at 10 a.m. on Friday, 17  March (how fitting – it’s also St. Patrick’s Day)  at the Main Post Parade Field – monument area (corner of Randolph. Alexander and Hunt streets).  Fort Bragg’s Arbor Day Proclamation will be read and several trees will be planted in the area.

Fort Bragg has actively celebrated North Carolina’s Arbor Day for well over a decade with tree plantings in various locations throughout the installation.  The Fort Bragg Arbor Board in conjunction with the Directorate of Public Work’s Environmental Division hosts the tree planting each year.

This year two red cedars will be planted near the monuments to replace several trees that had to be removed due to disease or age.

North Carolina’s Arbor Day is always celebrated on the first Friday after March 15th.  The official proclamation and planting event is just one step toward earning the Tree City USA certification.  Fort Bragg has proudly been designated Tree City USA for 12 consecutive years.

For further information on Sustainable Fort Bragg, email Lynda.S.Pfau.ctr@mail.mil or call 910-432-8476.

Burning Towards Success

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Fort Bragg Forestry Personnel Control Hotspots During Prescribed Burning

 

By Mindy Love, DPW

Fort Bragg takes ecosystem management seriously. An important part of ecosystem management on the installation is prescribed fire. What is a prescribed fire? A prescribed fire, also referred to as a controlled burn, is an intentional fire controlled by a team of experts applied to fire adapted landscapes. On Fort Bragg, the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem is fire dependent and requires prescribed fire to reduce fuel loads, manage important habitats, assist with wildlife management, and is also beneficial to military training!

Fort Bragg uses prescribed fire to reduce vegetation, or fuel, which could lead to large, uncontrolled wildfires. Prescribed burning promotes the regeneration/germination of longleaf pine and many other plant species and controls hardwoods in the forest understory. Wildlife management in the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem, including management of rare and endangered species, requires frequent burning. This method of vegetation control also creates an improved and safer training environment for our military.

Each year the installation creates a detailed plan for the areas to be burned, describing the management objectives for the burn. Trained forestry and natural resources personnel conduct prescribed burns across approximately 55,000 acres of training lands annually. Included in the plan is the procedure for fire and smoke management, allowable weather conditions and personnel needs, as well as an action plans in the event of changing conditions.

The bulk of the controlled burns take place from December through June when weather conditions are favorable. Firebreaks, wide roads or trails which are graded or cleared of vegetation to ensure that the fire does not leave the area, dot the installation landscape. Additionally, Fort Bragg Forestry personnel use a variety of vehicles and equipment such as pumpers with water tanks, graders, tractor plows, and an assortment of hand tools to ensure the burns are controlled. Burns are normally conducted when forecasted wind conditions will cause smoke to be blown away from major roads, buildings, housing areas and airfields.

Our Longleaf Pine Ecosystem is dependent on fire. The red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW), a federally listed endangered species found on Fort Bragg, requires its habitat to be managed by regular fires. This is vital to its population management and the continued success of the RCW on Fort Bragg. Many other plants and animals also require fire to reproduce or thrive. Prescribed burns reduce competition, release seeds, and add nutrients to the soil, all which benefit numerous species. Equally important, prescribed fire directly and indirectly supports the military mission and optimizes training conditions for our soldiers.

Without fire, the forest may develop a dense undergrowth of shrubs and young hardwood trees which can grow into the mid-story of the forest canopy. These changes to the forest can make areas unsuitable for some species of wildlife.

Wildfires have the potential to be more dangerous and destructive in the absence of prescribed fire due to the increased fuel accumulation in the form of vegetation. Reducing this fuel consequently reduces the risk to people and property created by wildfires. Smoke from wildfires is difficult to control, and it carries more pollutants than smoke from prescribed burns. Each year installation Forestry personnel respond to approximately 250 wildfires which are normally smaller in size and easily controlled due to the prescribed burning program.

Fort Bragg coordinates with numerous stakeholders including the North Carolina Department of Environment Quality and the North Carolina Forest Service when conducting prescribed burns. The installation also notifies the public of prescribed burning activity via installation social media.

Prescribed burns are vital for managing of Fort Bragg’s unique longleaf pine ecosystem, which provides an environment essential for the training our soldiers today and tomorrow.

For more information on the prescribed burn program on Fort Bragg contact the Forestry Branch at 910-396-2510.

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Prescribed Fire Reduces Fuel on the Forest Floor

NIGHT MOVES: Biologists Work to Dispel Fears, Preserve Bats at Fort Bragg

Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat

Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat

Bats have long been associated with Halloween. Indeed, the origin of Halloween has a long history. Once celebrated during the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) in what is now Ireland, Great Britain, and France, the Celts believed that on 31 October the ghosts of the dead returned to earth the day before their new year. They built sacred bonfires, dressed in costumes, and left food on their doorsteps for the roaming ghosts. This eventually was secularized and evolved into what we know as Halloween in the present day.

So where do bats fit into Halloween? It is believed that the huge bonfires built to keep spirits away attracted insects to the fire. Those insects buzzing about in turn attracted bats, which are voracious insectivores. The festival of Samhain was a celebration of the harvest and the change of the season from fall to winter. It was all very innocent really. Bats were taking advantage of the insects around these huge fires and at that time, people had no idea they would eventually become associated with Halloween.

Folklore of vampires and blood suckers were common across Europe, so in the 17th century when Europeans learned of bats in Latin America that feed on blood they were given the common name vampire bats. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until Bram Stokers book Dracula and the vampire movies of the 1950’s that the idea of evil bloodsucking creatures took flight. Suddenly, these small, winged mammals were demonized and became the creatures some people wrongly fear today.

Hanging Red Bat

Hanging Red Bat

The unknown leads to many misconceptions and fears of a mammal that is in reality extremely beneficial. There are many bat myths circulating around.

  • Myth 1: Bats are blind. FALSE. While they actually do have good eyesight, for most that is not their primary way to seek food or navigate the night sky. They use what is known as echolocation to seek out their prey and fly at night. Echolocation is a biological sonar system whereby the bat emits a high frequency sound and uses the corresponding echo from that call to determine the location and identification of objects and prey. This allows them to navigate in total darkness and see everything, sensing obstacles as fine as a human hair.
  • Myth 2: Bats are flying mice. FALSE. Bats are not rodents and are more closely related to you than a mouse.
  • Myth 3: Bats get tangled in your hair. FALSE. Remember that echolocation sonar system they use? It can detect an obstacle as fine as a human hair, so no worries!
  • Myth 4: All bats are blood suckers. FALSE. While there are three species of vampire bats found in Latin America, only one targets mammals. However, they don’t suck blood, they lap it up like a kitten with milk. The bats produce a powerful anticoagulant in their saliva to keep the blood from clotting. This enzyme is used in medication that helps prevent strokes in humans.
  • Myth 5: All bats are rabid. FALSE. Not even close! Sure bats can contract rabies like other mammals and some may. Nonetheless, the vast majority of bats are not infected. If you see a bat that you can easily approach it is likely sick and you should avoid contact. This includes your pets as well. Never handle a bat or any other wild animal – leave that to the pros!
  • Myth 6: Bats don’t matter. FALSE. Bats DO matter! Why? Bats are on the first line of defense against many insects and pests. One small Mexican free-tailed bat, found here on Fort Bragg, can eat about 1,000 insects per hour! It has been estimated that pest-control services provided by bats likely saves the U.S. agriculture industry at least $3 billion a year. Without these nighttime flying mammals there would be more pests eating precious crops. As for the bats that eat nectar and fruit, without them seeds would not be dispersed and plants would not be pollinated. Items such as bananas, avocados, and tequila would vanish.

There are over 1,300 species of bats found all over the world, except in extreme Polar Regions, and they come in all shapes and sizes from the tiny bumblebee bat to the large flying foxes and everything in between. Bats are the only mammals that have developed powered flight; other flying mammals only glide. A bats wing is made from thin skin stretched between elongated fingers, allowing the bat to maneuver more accurately than a bird.

Bats eat many different things, including insects, fruit, nectar, fish, and least of all, blood. All of the bats found in North Carolina are insectivorous so you will not find any fruit, nectar, vampire, or fish-eating bats in this locale. About two-thirds of all bat species feed on insects and other small prey.

Not all bats live in caves. Bats found on the Installation do not use caves while in this area, but some species may travel to caves in the winter to hibernate. Potential roost locations include tree foliage, hollow trunks, under the loose bark of trees, tree cavities, buildings, bridges, and bat houses.

Red Bat & Seminole Bat Side-by-Side

Red Bat & Seminole Bat Side-by-Side

The Endangered Species Branch has documented ten of the sixteen different species of bats found in North Carolina on Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall, including two rare species: Big Brown bats, Evening bats, Hoary bats, Silver-haired bats, Eastern Red bats, Tri-colored bats, Seminole bats, Brazilian (or Mexican) Free-tailed bats, Southeastern bats and Rafinesque’s Big-eared bats. The Southeastern and Rafinesque’s Big-eared bats are both listed as Federal Species of Concern and North Carolina Special Concern species.

Biologists search for bats using special equipment to record their echolocation calls, and by searching in hollow trees, under bridges, in old buildings, and catching bats in mist nets. Mist nets look like giant hair nets that are strung up across an area where bats will come to frequently (like a water source) with hopes that a bat flies into it so it can be captured. Oftentimes, the bats avoid the mist nets due to their echolocation call, which causes the bat to “see” and hear the net so they fly around to avoid capture.

Red Bat & Seminole Bat Side View

Red Bat & Seminole Bat Side View

Bats are in trouble. Not only are they are continually threatened by habitat loss each year, but since 2007 they’ve been decimated by a rapidly spreading fungal infection known as White Nose Syndrome. First detected in New York, it has spread into the central United States and as far north as Quebec, killing millions. What can you do? Don’t be afraid! You can help bats by encouraging them to roost in your yard by constructing a bat house or by protecting their roost sites and habitat. Build a bat house and you may be able to save money on bug repellant!

Just in time for Halloween is Bat Week 2015 starting on 25 October 2015. For more information on bat week visit http://www.batweek.org/. For more facts about bats you can also visit Bat Conservation International for up to date information at http://www.batcon.org/

 

A PRESCRIPTION FOR SAFER MEDICATION DISPOSAL

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If you visited your physician this year, chances are, you walked away with a prescription. In fact, four out of five patients leave their doctor’s offices with a prescription. Annually, the average North Carolinian fills 14 prescriptions, and 127 million drugs enter households in the state. However, 40 percent of prescription drugs dispensed to consumers are never used, and over $1 billion of medications are either stored or discarded every year, leading to a myriad of environmental and public health issues.

Environmental chemists Christian Daughton and Ilene Ruhoy once wrote, “Wastage of medications not only maximizes the ability of active pharmaceutical ingredients to enter the environment with largely unknown consequences, it also increases the likelihood that drugs can be diverted to others for unintended purposes, leading to drug abuse and accidental poisonings.”

The sources of prescription drug disposal are unclear, and the percentages of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the environment that originate from disposal are not known. However, recent monitoring studies have detected low levels of a range of pharmaceuticals including hormones, steroids, antibiotics and parasiticides in soils, surface waters and ground waters across a wide range of hydrological, climatic and land use settings. The United States Geological Survey estimates that over 80 percent of waterways have detectable concentrations of APIs. Antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers and hormones have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 40 million Americans. Concentrations are currently below levels that would cause concern, but if these concentrations increase and become more widespread, they could certainly pose a threat to public health and have adverse effects on both aquatic and terrestrial organisms.

Furthermore, both prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines cause a vast majority of the unintentional poisonings in the United States. According to the North Carolina Division of Public Health, over 1,000 people die in the state each year from overdoses on prescription drugs.

The safest and most sustainable disposal options for prescription and OTC medications are through law enforcement agencies or government programs. The Fort Bragg Office of the Provost Marshal accepts medications at the Law Enforcement Center in Building 2-5634 on Armistead Street. The Fayetteville Police Department at 457 Hay Street accepts prescriptions, OTC medicines, vitamins, pet medicines, ointments, lotions and liquid medications in glass or leak-proof containers. They do not, however, accept needles, thermometers, blood or infectious wastes, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, nitroglycerin, blood thinners or nicotine patches.

The state of North Carolina’s Operation Medicine Drop, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Event and similar programs are held at various times and locations through the year. In Cumberland County, Operation Medicine Drop is scheduled for Saturday, September 27 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the following locations.

  • North Post Exchange on Fort Bragg
  • North Carolina State Highway Patrol office at 2435 Gillespie Street in Fayetteville
  • Cumberland County Law Enforcement Center at 131 Dick Street in Fayetteville
  • Eastover Fire Department at 3405 Dunn Road in Eastover
  • Stedman Fire Department at 7595 Clinton Road in Stedman
  • Wade Fire Department at 7130 Powell Street in Wade

Moore County collection locations can be found HERE.

For more information and for more collection points in the area, visit the North Carolina Department of Justice.

If you absolutely cannot discard your medications through a law enforcement agency or government program, be sure to discard them in a responsible manner.

To prevent accidental ingestion by people and pets, always secure medications carefully, and surrender or responsibly discard these medications as soon as they are no longer required in the manner stated on the label. Do not flush a prescription, though, unless the label specifically directs such disposal.

The Food and Drug Administration recognizes that there are environmental concerns associated with the introduction of medications into the wastewater system, but the agency maintains that the risks associated with the exposure to certain controlled substances outweigh the risks associated with their disposal by flushing. These medications include Demerol, Oxycontin, Percoset, Diazepam, Tramadol and drugs that contain fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, buprenorphine hydrochloride and their derivatives. These substances can be harmful or fatal if ingested by someone other than the person for whom they were prescribed.

If you cannot discard your medication through a law enforcement agency or government program and the label does not specifically recommend disposal by flushing, you can discard it in your household trash with certain precautions. Do not crush tablets or capsules, and do not place medications directly in the trash. Instead, combine them with an unpalatable substance such as cat litter or coffee grounds in a sealable plastic bag or sturdy container, and place the sealed container in the trash. A new innovation called Pill Terminator is another option. One can collect as many as 300 pills in the Pill Terminator bottle and fill the bottle with warm water, which combines with a powder that destroys pills for safe disposal in the trash. Visit The Pill Terminator for more information.

Plastic prescription bottles can be recycled. Bottles should be empty and clean, and all pertinent prescription and personal information on the label should first be removed or thoroughly obscured prior to recycling.

SELECT THE IMAGE FOR A PRINTABLE POSTER …

Rx Drug Disposal

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Food and Drug Administration: Disposal of Unused Medicines

North Carolina Department of Justice: Prescription Drug Abuse

EPA Medicine Disposal Guide

Office of National Drug Control Policy Prescription Drug Abuse Initiative

Dispose My Meds