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Andersen making strides to protect the endangered wildlife on Guam

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Biologists from the University of Guam, Guam Plant Extinction Protection Program and U.S. Air Force set up a protective netting around Serianthes nelsonii saplings Sept. 13, 2017, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. More than 40 of the endangered tree species saplings were planted around Andersen in an attempt to protect the species from extinction on Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Audra Young)

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Biologists from the University of Guam, Guam Plant Extinction Protection Program and U.S. Air Force set up a protective netting around Serianthes nelsonii saplings Sept. 13, 2017, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. More than 40 of the endangered tree species saplings were planted around Andersen in an attempt to protect the species from extinction on Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Audra Young)

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Biologists from the University of Guam, Guam Plant Extinction Protection Program and U.S. Air Force plant Serianthes nelsonii saplings Sept. 13, 2017, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. More than 40 of the endangered tree species saplings were planted around Andersen in an attempt to protect the species from extinction on Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Audra Young)

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The new home of the endangered Serianthes nelsonii sapling Sept. 13, 2017, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. More than 40 of the endangered tree species saplings were planted around Andersen by biologists from the University of Guam, Guam Plant Extinction Protection Program and U.S. Air Force in an attempt to protect the species from extinction on Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Audra Young)

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The new home of the endangered Serianthes nelsonii sapling Sept. 13, 2017, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. More than 40 of the endangered tree species saplings were planted around Andersen by biologists from the University of Guam, Guam Plant Extinction Protection Program and U.S. Air Force in an attempt to protect the species from extinction on Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Audra Young)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --

As the island of Guam flourishes and makes its presence known all over the world, Andersen Air Force Base and the local community are working together to ensure the wildlife and history on Guam is protected.

 

On Sept. 13, members of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight teamed up with the University of Guam, Guam Plant Extinction Prevention Program (GPEPP) to plant the most endangered tree species on Guam.

 

Currently, the Serianthes nelsonii, also known as Hayun Lagu or “Fire Tree” on Guam, is only known to have one mature tree on Guam, which is located at Ritidian on Andersen AFB. This is one of the federally listed trees currently being monitored and was last estimated to have around 30 mature trees left on Rota. During this recent event, 41 saplings were outplanted in two different locations on Andersen AFB. The specialized team hopes that with efforts like this the species may flourish again.

 

“Andersen has continued to protect the mature tree on base, collect seeds, propagate and outplant seedlings. Nearly 100 more seedlings will be planted on AAFB next year with a goal of planting 200 by 2019,” said Jennifer Cruce Horeg, 36th CES natural resource specialist.

The base also assisted the Guam National Wildlife Refuge in planting over 30 Serianthes nelsonii in 2014 in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Guam Department of Agriculture and the University of Guam, GPEPP. The base works closely with the GPEPP who has propagated and outplanted trees at the Refuge and other locations on Guam.

 

According to Dr. Jim McConnell at the University of Guam and the 36 CES environmental flight, the cause of the original decline of the trees is still unknown. Many trees on Rota were lost during the 2015 typhoon season, as well as to damage done by insects and animals. Team Andersen continues to work to ensure that any infrastructure has a low impact on wildlife and cultural sites on Guam.

 

“The wildlife and historical sites on Guam are irreplaceable; it’s our duty to ensure we protect as much as possible,” said Jim Watkins, 36th CES conservation resource chief. “There are many cultural sites here on base, especially in the Tarague basin and the goal is to protect them and objects of historical, archaeological or cultural value.”

 

The endangered trees grow to be the tallest trees in the Marianas and have cultural significance to the Chamorro people, who have inhabited Guam for the last 4,000 years. The environmental flight is working to ensure the people of Guam that Andersen is a responsible partner regarding the protection and sustainment of the environment, capable with preservation of native species and history of the Chamorro people.

The U.S. Air Force is dedicated to protecting, preserving, and restoring the environment by efficiently using resources for the Andersen community of today and tomorrow.