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Posted 4/21/2016

Release no. 16-001

Lou Fioto

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The Earth is a truly marvelous and beautiful planet, and it is the responsibility of all of us to keep it that way. Earth Day, April 22, is a global holiday established for just that purpose, to celebrate the wonder of life on our planet and to remind everyone that we must restore and protect it and stay ever vigilant to its health and well-being. Earth Day is an annual celebration. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year. On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement is scheduled to be signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfies a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been doing its part to save the planet for many decades, especially in the North Atlantic Division (NAD), where we work, because to us every day is Earth Day. We have been working hard to restore and protect the environment, and we continue to be on the front lines of such efforts.

The Corps plans, designs and constructs projects to support the military, protect America’s water resources, mitigate risk from disasters, and restore and enhance the environment. NAD is the Corps’ headquarters for the Northeastern United States, Europe, and Africa, with offices in Concord, Mass., New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk and Wiesbaden, Germany.

When it comes to the environment, the Corps manages one of the largest federal missions in the United States. We must deliver environmentally sound projects and services to our customers in all our programs. The scope and magnitude of environmental issues that we address make us stand out among other federal agencies. But it is more than one agency can do on its own, it requires working in partnership with others to ensure our environmental efforts meet the needs of the American public.

We continually partner with other federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to find innovative solutions to challenges that affect everyone: sustainability, climate change, endangered species, environmental cleanup, ecosystem restoration and more. Our environmental professionals are key resources for anyone inside or outside the Army family, wherever and whenever environmental solutions are sought. The breadth and depth of skills found within the workforce gives it the ability to seek the best solution to environmental challenges.

We work on seven environmental operating principles, or the Corps’ green ethics. Restoring ecosystems, constructing sustainable facilities, regulating waterways and managing natural resources, cleanup and protection activities, and environmental stewardship. The Corps executes environmental stewardship activities on project lands and waters to sustain natural and cultural resources and takes action to minimize adverse environmental impacts. NAD’s Environmental Stewardship Program promotes, restores, protects and manages our ecological natural resources while providing access to our lands for public use. We manage our lands and waters for protection of fish and wildlife, limiting encroachments, maintaining our boundaries, reducing erosion, improving water quality, managing invasive species, protecting and managing for threatened and endangered species and cultural resources. Our environmental stewardship program encompasses nearly 150,000 acres and more than 500 miles of shoreline.

The NAD uses the latest equipment and technologies to administer the EPA's Superfund program in the Northeast, overcoming the ravages of the past. We have one of the largest Superfund programs in the Corps.  We clean up hazardous and toxic materials at current and formerly used military sites, like Spring Valley in Maryland and the Raritan Arsenal in New Jersey.  We design and build new military facilities throughout Europe and in the Northeast that are ecologically sound and environmentally safe.

Each year, NAD's districts issue thousands of permits for wetland and waterway activities.  We diligently monitor and regulate these activities to insure that they conform to environmental rules and regulations.  Our boats and crewmembers remove drift and debris from five major East Coast ports and hundreds of smaller waterways, maintaining their beauty and safety. We truly THINK GREEN!

Our goal for our environmental mission is to restore ecosystem structure and processes, manage our land, resources and construction activities in a sustainable manner, and support cleanup and protection activities efficiently and effectively, all while leaving the smallest footprint behind.

And we don’t stop once we leave the office. We carry our professional care over into our personal lives. We do what we can to save energy, use environmentally safe and energy-efficient products and services, we reuse and recycle wherever possible, and we don't litter. We spread the word to our families, friends, neighbors, coworkers and customers. We try to make them aware so we can all continue to make the Earth a cleaner, safer, better place.

Lou Fioto is a public affairs specialist with the North Atlantic Division of the Army Corps of Engineers