Arnold environmental scientists plan week-long Earth Day observance

Sinking Pond, a 394-acre site on Arnold Air Force Base that contains 149 acres of bottomland hardwoods, was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1975.  Maximum winter water depth varies from a few inches to 15 feet in various parts of the site. But, the entire pond is usually dry in late summer and early fall.  This area represents the largest and best developed overcup oak upland swamp in existence on the Highland Rim.  It also contains one of the largest great blue heron rookeries in the state. (photo provided)

Sinking Pond, a 394-acre site on Arnold Air Force Base that contains 149 acres of bottomland hardwoods, was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1975. Maximum winter water depth varies from a few inches to 15 feet in various parts of the site. But, the entire pond is usually dry in late summer and early fall. This area represents the largest and best developed overcup oak upland swamp in existence on the Highland Rim. It also contains one of the largest great blue heron rookeries in the state. (photo provided)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Environmental scientists at Arnold Air Force Base have planned a week-long observance of Earth Day.

For starters, second graders from Broadview, Decherd and East Lincoln Elementary Schools are invited to participate in an environmental awareness project. The students will decorate brown paper grocery bags with environmental messages. The contest is aimed at educating and empowering students to make a difference in their communities.

Several local grocers will supply the brown recyclable bags - another environmental message for the students.

Decorated bags will be on display in the Engineering Analysis Facility (EAF) Conference Room 308, Bldg. 1103, April 13 from 8:30-10 a.m. Event coordinators are looking for people with access to the base to stop by and vote for the bag of their choice.

Third graders from the same schools are competing in an environmental essay contest. Unlike the bag decorating contest, coordinators are asking for volunteers from the base to sign up to judge the essays. Those interested in judging should call Letha McEntee at 454-7749 before close of business April 13.

Activity coordinators will present ribbons to first through fifth place winners from each school in the bag decorating and essay contests.

There will also be an environmentally focused art and photo exhibit in the main cafeteria lobby, Bldg. 4652, April 16-27. Arnold Engineering Development Center and Aerospace Testing Alliance employees, retirees, and their family members are invited to submit photographs, oil or watercolor paintings, collages or any other artistic presentation with an environmental theme.

There is no size requirement and submissions do not have to be framed, matted or mounted. Entrants should include their name, address and telephone number, and if applicable, entry title, on the back of the submission. Those interested should drop off submissions by close of business April 9. All submissions will be returned.

A couple of other activities will bring participants a little closer to nature. There's an after-work nature hike to Sinking Pond at 4:30 p.m., April 20. The hike to Sinking Pond, located off Wattendorf Highway, near the Arnold AFB Exit 117, is less than two miles round trip. The hike is open to anyone with access to the base and reservations must be made by close of business April 18. To sign up, call Christina Norman at 454-7383.

There's also a four-mile hike to Horse Pound Falls set for 9 a.m., April 21 - no reservations required. The hike, sponsored by the Fish and Wildlife Service, is open to the public. The hike in the South Cumberland Recreation Area offers nature enthusiasts a chance to see some rare species of flowers and the waterfall.

The hike can be strenuous for some people, according to Mike Hodges. Going in, the trail is all downhill due to an approximate 500-foot elevation drop. But, the hard part is the climb out because it's all uphill.

Officials recommend that hikers bring water, snacks, rain gear and their cameras and binoculars. Safety representatives also encourage people to wear sturdy high-top boots or shoes with good traction and suggest bringing a mini-first aid kit or supplies.

Biology students from Tullahoma, and Coffee, Franklin and Moore County high schools will get a chance to tour several facilities at Arnold, including the sampling station, recycling center and ground water treatment facility. 

For directions to the Horse Pound Falls meeting point, click here.