Commander’s Corner: How green is your Air Force?

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert E. Suminsby Jr.
  • 377th Air Base Wing Commander
The Air Force has been practicing environmentally responsible decision-making for a long time. Beyond using renewable energy sources Air Force wide, you don't have to look far to see the important role Kirtland AFB is playing in protecting our environment here and in the communities around us. 

On Nov. 1, Kirtland received the 2007 Federal Energy and Water Management Award for small group water conservation. This award was earned through many years of conservation and water use reduction programs, including putting in smaller lawns in the new housing, to a computerized landscape control system, which monitors irrigation, runoff and leaks, as well as reducing the amount of landscape watering needed. 

On Nov. 14, a Memorandum of Understanding to protect and conserve the Tijeras Arroyo wildlife corridor was made official. The agreement was between the City of Albuquerque, KAFB and the Department of Energy, and the National Nuclear Security Administration, Sandia Site office. 

This MOU acknowledges the necessity of maintaining the natural habitat so that the Tijeras Arroyo can remain what it is today - a thriving wildlife corridor. 

Preservation of the existing environment is far more desired than trying to reclaim what might be damaged forever. With this public statement of intent to work with other entities to act as reliable stewards of our shared environment, we appreciate our community leaders' joining for the greater good. 

Also on Nov. 14, a significant step was made on a veritable ecological and military land mine - pun intended. The eastern edge of KAFB is adjacent to the border of the Cibola National Forest. Not far away are the Sandia and Manzano Mountain communities, whose residents are frequently enjoying the public lands. 

One area was withdrawn from use, however many hikers and bicyclists have continued to use the popular trails in the vicinity. Otero Canyon is partially on Kirtland AFB grounds. On the evening of Nov. 14, a public meeting was held at Manzano High School to discuss the potential return of 400 acres to the U.S. forest service. 

This meeting was part of the process, which is federally required whenever the acquisition or removal of acreage of public lands is considered. It is our hope that public access to virtually all of what is actually Otero Canyon will be accomplished with a land transfer from Kirtland AFB to the Cibola National Forest. 

These environmental and community efforts are just a small sampling of the plans Kirtland is constantly reviewing, adjusting and working toward so that future members of Team Kirtland and the outlying communities can be proud of our desire and need to protect and conserve our resources.