Story and photos by Capt. Christopher Larsen
364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command
MARYSVILLE, Wash. – Soldiers and civilians of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, a U.S. Army Reserve unit headquartered here, recognized Earth Day with some help from the mayors of eight Snohomish County communities.
On a sunny Pacific Northwest spring afternoon, the group of military and civic leaders planted two trees at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 13613 40th Ave. N.E.
The trees, a Korean heartthrob dogwood and a lion’s head Japanese maple, were purchased with donations by the unit’s soldiers.
“It’s important for us to take care of our natural resources, for our children and our children’s children,” said Brig. Gen. I. Neal Black, the 364th ESC’s commanding general.
“Twenty million people took part in the first Earth Day in 1970,” he said. “Today, more than one billion take part in this important event to foster environmental awareness.”
The 364th ESC’s tree-planting tradition started in 2012, while the unit was deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Even in the arid Kuwaiti desert, plants and trees will thrive if treated properly; waste water used for cooking and cleaning was often used to hydrate the plants, a form of earth-friendly recycling in an area not known for its moisture.
The mayors were on hand at the reserve center representing the North Country Mayors, a Snohomish County group made up of elected officials from 14 communities. The group was invited to hold its monthly meeting at the facility.
“It’s part of our ongoing effort to build community partnerships,” said Kone Nisperos, the 364th ESC’s executive assistant and protocol officer. “We invited them [the mayors] to hold the meeting here to bring them together and show them we’re part of the community.
“Plus, we have soldiers living in their communities. It’s the right thing to do,” Nisperos added.
After their meeting, the mayors and soldiers gathered in front of the reserve center, one of the newest in the Army’s inventory. The trees were placed into their respective holes, mayors and soldiers gathered round.
Sunlight glinted off the gold spades of ceremonial shovels as dirt was added to the holes, making the trees part of the permanent landscape at the reserve center.
Opened in 2011, the Marysville center was constructed with an eye towards energy conservation, using state-of-the-art materials that promote efficiency, such as self-dimming lights and water-saving fixtures.
What’s more, the building is certified ‘green,’ according to Scott McKean, the 364th ESC’s command executive officer.
“This is a ‘LEED-silver’ facility,” he said.
McKean explained that LEED – short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is an internationally-recognized, environmentally-friendly building program that results in lower operating costs, energy and water conservation, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
The building’s ‘silver’ rating means it has received a minimum of 50 points on a 100-point efficiency scale.
Army officials said the tree-planting was another example of the Army Reserve’s continuing commitment to the environment, and to the towns and cities in which they serve.