By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
Training lands in Fort McCoy's maneuver areas, which support
both nonmobilizing and mobilizing units, is kept in prime condition by
the Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program.
Bill Newman of the Land
Rehabilitation and Maintenance Crew collapses an abandoned
cistern on North Post to improve training safety. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
Brooks Lundeen and Bill Newman of the Land Rehabilitation and
Maintenance (LRAM) crew said they manage the vegetation in the
maneuver areas to help give troops the best training opportunities and
also to keep the installation lands in the best shape for present and
future training needs.
The LRAM is part of the ITAM Program, which falls within the
Training Division of the Directorate of Emergency Services and
Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
LRAM's main objective is to sustain realistic and safe training
environments to meet ever-evolving mission demands while incorporating
land-stewardship principles. This is done through preventative and
corrective land rehabilitation, reconfiguration, and proactive
Their work can run all the way from ensuring trails and
footpaths are negotiable to clearing areas around firing points to
ensure they are accessible to troops, Lundeen said.
"We work closely with a number of installation personnel
to ensure the lands are properly managed," Lundeen said.
For example, the LRAM personnel work with the forestry
department on mutually beneficial oak wilt control projects,
sustaining tree health as well as cover and concealment for Soldiers.
Bill Newman of the LRAM crew uses
mulching equipment to help minimize woody debris and maintain
access to training areas. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
Newman said they also work closely with the wildlife biologists
to share equipment and manage for problem plant species.
The wildlife program has some specialized herbicide application
equipment and a very small shredding machine.
This equipment is used by the wildlife program to treat
nonnative plant species and also shared with LRAM to control unwanted
woody encroachment, such as prickly ash or resprouting oaks, within
designated maneuver areas or firing points.
"We encourage the growth of native plants because they are
the most sustainable and also provide the best training opportunities
for military personnel," Newman said.
The program also recycles and reuses whatever it can from its
work, Newman said. Woody
debris or trees removed from training areas for various projects are
often stockpiled and ground up utilizing a large industrial tub
grinder, via contract. The wood chips, which are a product of this
process, can be used to
strengthen and support degraded trails.
Additionally, sometimes snags need to be removed from training
areas LRAM may down the trees and stockpile them in a nearby
designated site. The
public, through the purchase of a Fort McCoy Firewood Permit, can then
access these piles and reduce the stockpiled loads of unwanted trees.
This is a win-win scenario minimizing hauling distances for
LRAM and still getting rid of woody debris.
This helps the installation reduce the amount of material that
has to be disposed of, he said, and also saves the installation money
because it doesn't have to buy or remove some of these materials.
On an annual basis LRAM shreds approximately 400 acres to
maintain open areas and corridors and cares for approximately 15-20
miles of trails, Lundeen said.
Brent Friedl, ITAM program manager, said beyond
sustain-ability, projects often are done for the safety of the troops.
Two old cisterns, previously discovered, were deemed safety hazards
because they were wide enough for someone to fall into.
In fact both cisterns had been the final resting place for a
number of animals, to include species as large as a whitetail deer, as
indicated by several skeletons discovered within the cisterns.
Coordination was done with the Environmental Division and the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which suggested collapsing
in a side of each cistern to close them off and prevent water from
accumulating in the structures. Archaeology and National Environmental
Protection Act personnel at Fort McCoy were consulted to ensure the
cisterns didn't have historical importance.
Each cistern was then collapsed and filled in with soil to
reduce future risks.
Another project the ITAM program is currently assisting with is
installing a silt fence on a South Post site, where the new Rock
Crusher Site will be installed during the course of the next year. The
project is to support engineer units working with Troop Projects to
complete the transfer of the rock- crushing operation from North to
South Post. LRAM has
specialized equipment which can quickly and properly lay the silt
fence into the ground for erosion control as required by the project's
storm water permit.
Soldiers can, therefore, spend less time laying the silt fence,
and spend more time conducting training on equipment and LRAM ensures
the erosion is contained on site for long-term land stewardship.