Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has entered a contract with an island-based nonprofit to carry out environmental stewardship projects on the base for up to five years.
The Pacific Rim Institute recently completed a one-year contract with the base, and personnel from the organization signed a new contract to continue the work they started, including planting native plants and clearing out invasive species.
Robert Pelant, Pacific Rim Institute CEO, said the organization’s work on the base has three components. Volunteers are working to grow the population of native golden paintbrushes at Forbes Point, remove invasive brush in the Garry oak savanna and replace it with prairie plants, and install native foliage at Outlying Field Coupeville to block the view of concrete blocks at the field’s perimeter and preserve the scenic quality of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
Pelant said it is important for the Navy to be involved in environmental restoration efforts because it and many other Department of Defense institutions possess large parcels of land, and portions of these properties only serve as buffers around structures such as hangars and runways. On the base on North Whidbey, some of these lands have almost developed a monoculture that is harmful to the environment, Pelant said.
“There’s a huge potential for these properties to serve a better function,” he said.
Pelant said Navy volunteers who have previously assisted with projects at the institute campus in Coupeville have joined institute volunteers on the base.
“We find that the environmental department at the Navy is very cooperative and very interested in doing the right thing there,” Pelant said. “We’re excited to be a part of that.”
The new contract is for one year but could roll over into as many as five years, depending on the scope of the work to be completed.
Base spokesperson Michael Welding said this partnership and others like it are critical for protecting shared resources and maintaining the Navy’s ability to train in this region.
“The Navy’s relationship with the Pacific Rim Institute is of vital importance to our presence in the Pacific Northwest,” he wrote in an email. “It epitomizes our commitment to enhancing environmental stewardship while conducting our national defense responsibilities.”