The Office of the Chief Army Reserve recently put the finishing touches on a bed and breakfast … for the birds after getting a $4,000 Defense Department Legacy Grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation. 

The project – building a pollinator and bird habitat at OCAR headquarters on Fort Belvoir – encompassed planning and coordination, relocating existing shrubbery and installing about 130 plants in order to create a welcoming environment for traveling birds, bees and butterflies. OCAR staff members volunteered their time during the National Public Lands Day planting. Resilience and restoration was National Public Land’s Day focus this year. 

Christine Ploschke, the sustainability programs branch chief at Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate, said her team pursued the grant as a chance to beautify the building and increase habitat for important species. 

“It was a big project for us, but coming together and making the time was worthwhile and so satisfying,” Ploschke said. “Everyone was laughing and enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon, and now, every day that we come in, we can be proud of what we did and also feel good about helping our feathered friends.” 

“It’s nice to hear everybody commenting on it as they walk past,” she added. “To have a tangible product like this brings to life what we typically do each day through much less interesting means.” 

The sustainability programs branch provides strategy, policy and resources for the Army Reserve’s energy, environmental, water, and solid waste programs, which are then implemented by the Directorates of Public Works at five Army installations and more than 800 Army Reserve Centers. 

“We set the tone for Army Reserve readiness divisions and installations,” said Ploschke. “And, if we can show by example that we can find the time, submit the packet and get the work done, maybe they will be inspired to spearhead or volunteer for similar projects at their locations.” 

 

National Public Lands Day Planting Facts: 

Some of what OCAR volunteers planted include: little bluestem, low serviceberry, white meadowsweet, creeping wintergreen, yarrow.

The project commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which conserves migratory bird populations and important bird habitats for future generations, through monitoring and population management. 

- U.S. Army Environmental Command 

The following birds will be attracted: gray catbird; white-eyed vireo; prairie warbler; blue-winged warbler; yellow-breasted chat; field sparrow and grasshopper sparrow – all birds of high continental or regional priority. The plants will also attract pollinator species, like bees, the monarch and other butterfly species.