Hill's Cultural Resources Management team earns DoD environmental award

  • Published
  • By Mollie Miller
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Department of the Air Force took top honors for its commitment to environmental stewardship in five of nine categories during the 62nd Annual Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards Competition April 22. 

Teams and individuals from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Eglin AFB, Florida, Kadena Air Base, Japan, Minot AFB, North Dakota, and the F-35 Lightning II Program were recognized for their accomplishments in innovative and cost-effective environmental management strategies.  

“Airmen and Guardians have been disrupting the status quo, driving change and innovating for over 75 years. It is part of our DNA. We can no longer afford to move at the speed of government – we must invest in our people and set the pace for the future,” said Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations and Environment. “This year’s award recipients epitomize the spirit of innovation that will ensure our nation will prevail.” 

Department of the Air Force winners are:  

2024 Environmental Excellence in Weapon Systems Acquisition, Team: F-35 Lightning II Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Team 
The F-35 ESOH team had a very busy 2023 as its members worked a variety of environmental compliance and pollution prevention projects designed to encourage international F-35 sales. ESOH representatives supported Air Force carcinogen elimination efforts during two service-wide endeavors and applied a non-chrome fuel tank coating at Air Force-owned manufacturing facilities and F-35 depots as part of hexavalent chromium removal operations. The team is working to replace cadmium, another carcinogen, on landing gear and leading-edge flaps with a zinc-nickel plating. The ESOH team also employed Rapid Tac II, a fluid that allows adhesive backed boots to be repositioned before permanently adhering. The new fluid offers an estimated cost savings of $5,200 per aircraft.        

2024 Cultural Resources Management, Large Installation: Hill AFB, Utah 
The Cultural Resources Management team at Hill AFB oversees about one million acres of land rich with archaeological sites, cultural landscapes and historic districts. In 2023, CRM members cultivated positive relationships with 22 tribes with ancestral and cultural bonds to the lands to develop meaningful relationships at Hill and preserve the heritage of native cultures. The team also used leading-edge imaging technology, including ground penetrating radar and drones, to support archaeological survey and inventory methods.    

2024 Environmental Quality, Non-Industrial Installation: Eglin AFB, Florida  
The Environmental Quality team at Eglin AFB maintained oversight of environmental matters at one of the Department of the Air Force’s largest installations. Stretching into four counties, encompassing 464,000 acres of land ranges, 123,000 square miles of water ranges and 153 miles of shoreline, the Eglin reservation offered the team many opportunities to exercise environmental stewardship. Eglin personnel led the largest multiagency oil spill training exercise ever undertaken at the installation during the award period. The team also planted one million longleaf pine seedlings and established the DAF’s first commercial pine straw contract that is expected to generate $100,000 of revenue annually.     

2024 Natural Resources Conservation, Individual: Hugo Cabos, Kadena AB, Japan 
Hugo Cabos has been the Natural Resource Program manager for the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron at Kadena AB since 2021. Since joining the Natural Resources team, Cabos has developed and coordinated projects including a $1.3 million invasive species management plan that provides information to strategically target locations for treatment to ensure maximum impact. His invasive species management and coordination with project planners resulted in the preservation of more than 230 Japanese-protected species.    

2024 Natural Resources Conservation, Small Installation: Minot AFB, North Dakota 
The Natural Resources Conservation team at Minot AFB is well versed in the balancing act of ensuring mission success for the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing while managing the conservation of wildlife and natural resources. In 2023, Minot joined Bumble Bee Watch, a multi-organizational effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This effort led to the first cataloging of bumble bee species on the installation. The team also committed to the North American Bat effort to monitor bat populations. Team members deployed four bioacoustics recorders and gained 192 hours of bat sounds. These efforts confirmed the presence of eight bat species including two endangered species.