Air Force assessing communities’ interest in restoration advisory boards Published April 3, 2023 By Mollie Miller AFIMSC Public Affairs JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Department of the Air Force is soliciting input from local communities to determine if there is support for forming environmental Restoration Advisory Boards at more than 60 active and closed installations. Restoration Advisory Boards, or RABs, provide a forum for two-way communication between the community and Air Force officials about environmental cleanup work on and around installations. RABs offer stakeholders access to the environmental restoration process and give members opportunities to review project progress, participate in dialogue, and provide comments and advice to the installation's decision makers concerning environmental restoration matters. Air Force officials led an orientation event in Oscoda, Michigan, for members of the newly formed Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board to discuss their roles in the environmental restoration at the former base. RABs like this one are designed to provide a forum for effective two-way communication between the community and the Air Force about environmental work that is being done current and former bases. Officials at more than 60 bases nationwide are conducting RAB Interest Assessments to determine if there is a need to establish or re-establish a RAB at their installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Breanne Humphreys) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “One of the key aspects of maintaining public trust and meeting our obligations under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program is to nurture effective relations with communities that surround installations where environmental restoration activities are occurring,” she said. “The Air Force values the input and collaboration of our communities as we work together to ensure success in these operations.” The Department of the Air Force is using communication methods intended to reach a diverse audience throughout the interest assessment period. Outreach efforts including social media posts, newspaper ads, fliers, community center notifications, and door-to-door campaigns will all play a role as officials work to engage communities impacted by the Air Force environmental restoration mission. The latest push for RAB participation and increased community input comes as Air Force officials continue to pledge their commitment to transparency in all elements of the environmental cleanup mission. Nancy Balkus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Environment, Safety, Infrastructure), affirmed this commitment Aug. 1, 2022, during testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “While the cleanup program is both legally and technically complex, its underlying purpose is simple: to address the releases attributable to the Air Force in a manner that transparently protects the American people,” she said. “We emphasize maximizing transparency, public participation, and collaboration in all our cleanup activities.” New members of the Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board took a site tour to learn about environmental restoration activities at the former base in Oscoda, Michigan. The advisory group includes eight government and nine community stakeholders tasked with enabling community involvement and providing input in the environmental restoration process. Officials at more than 60 bases nationwide are conducting RAB Interest Assessments to determine if there is a need to establish or re-establish a RAB at their installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charlotte Singleton) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “The RABs are instrumental in helping us reach community members at our closed bases,” he said. “We have an inherent responsibility to provide information to our communities and we are committed to keeping these communication lines open.” Coordinators are gathering RAB interest data throughout the spring and early summer and any required changes to existing programs are expected to be complete by Fall 2023. Those interested in learning more about their local RAB are asked to contact the Remedial Project Manager at active installations, the Base Environmental Coordinator at closed bases, or visit www.afcec.af.mil. Community members interested in serving as a member of a RAB can express their interest via email at AFIMSC.PA.Workflow@us.af.mil or call 1-866-725-7617.