[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                          May 9, 2008
Training

ITAM paves the way for Soldiers 
to accomplish mission

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.

Photo: Bill Newman of the Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance Crew collapses an abandoned cistern on North Post to improve training safety. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
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 management.

      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.

Photo: Bill Newman of the LRAM crew uses mulching equipment to help minimize woody debris and maintain access to training areas. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
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.

 

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