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Air Force partners for environmental conservation on Wake Atoll
John “Bird Man” Gilardi (left), a restoration ecologist, and Mashuri Waite, an ecologist, spray herbicide into the bark of an invasive ironwood tree April 12, 2017 at Wake Atoll. Gilardi and Waite are working to eradicate the invasive tree species. The trees, native to Australia and Indonesia among other regions, create forests where most plants won’t grow. This makes for a habitat that is not conducive to the natural open air environment preferred by the native birds of the atoll. The U.S. Air Force, through partnerships with agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have worked in recent years to restore Wake Atoll to a more natural habit for its bird population and rid the three islands of invasive plant species. Wake Atoll, made up of the tropical islands of Wilkes, Wake and Peale, is located approximately 2,138 nautical miles west of Honolulu, has a population of roughly 100 residents including Air Force personnel and American and Thai contractors, and is managed by the Pacific Air Forces Regional Support Center under 11th Air Force at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

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Photo by: Capt. Anastasia Schmidt |  VIRIN: 170410-F-BX031-0042.JPG