[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         June 27, 2008

Plan seeks to prevent lead contamination on small-arms ranges

      With heavy weapons training at Fort McCoy a reality for the present and well into the future because of the Global War on Terror and the need to prepare troops for future missions, Fort McCoy training and environmental officials decided they needed to inspect the installation's small-arms ranges to ensure there were no issues with lead contamination.

Photo: Mark McCarty (left) and Mike Gilmer, AMEC project manager, inspect erosion control matting on Range 1. (Photo by Aaron Yeager)
Mark McCarty (left) and Mike Gilmer, AMEC project manager, inspect erosion control matting on Range 1. 
(Photo by Aaron Yeager)

      Mark McCarty, an environmental protection specialist for the Natural Resources Branch of the Environmental Division of the Directorate of Public Works (DPW), said the AMEC Earth and Environmental Company of Minneapolis was contracted to develop a Range Environmental Management Plan for the installation. 

      The project included the review and inspection of all small-arms firing ranges at McCoy.

      "To our knowledge, such a study has never been done on Fort McCoy," McCarty said. "Our intent was to identify any potential environmental concerns that could be associated with possible lead contamination or migration at our firing ranges. By evaluating the risks and prioritizing our response, we can ensure the future sustainability of our firing ranges thus protecting our mission well into the future."

      AMEC analyzed the existing small-arms ranges at Fort McCoy and developed a Range Environmental Management Plan in accordance with applicable guidance documents published by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council.

      Gene Nall, the chief of Range Operations who headed the Natural Resources Branch when it was called the Biological and Cultural Resources Team and aligned under the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS), said the project, although designed as a stand-alone project, was part of an overall strategy. The study was developed when the organization previously was aligned with DPTMS.

      "The study is important because it shows the public that Fort McCoy is committed to maintaining a clean environment while we perform our training mission," Nall said. "Each project is separate but deals with different areas of cleanup."

      A previous project to inspect the Badger Drop Zone was geared toward past training practices on the installation.

      Nall said it addressed training conducted before environmental impacts of training became a concern. The small-arms range project is more proactive and geared toward maintaining installation ranges in an environmentally sound manner.

      "It is important for the installation to work on both types of activities to maintain not only our sustainability for the future but also to ensure the public knows we are actively concerned about the environmental impact we produce because of our mission," Nall said.

      The small-arms range plan outlines a series of recommended environmental stewardship practices for the long-term management of lead and other range-related materials at the firing range complex, McCarty said.

      The implementation of the plan will allow Fort McCoy to:

  • Identify potential environmental concerns associated with lead contamination/migration at the facility's firing ranges;

  • Evaluate the risk and prioritize the implementation of appropriate actions to manage any existing issues;

  • Integrate site-specific best management practices for managing lead in existing and/or future range designs; and

  • Determine which ranges are the most conducive to future upgrading/transformation in regard to lead and potential remediation requirements associated with land-use modifications.

      McCarty said the inspection indicated the greatest concern of lead concentrations was on Range 1 -- the Combat Pistol Qualification Range. AMEC did an advance site visit in April to inspect the project area on Range 1 and collect soil samples.

      McCarty said the results revealed the extent of the soil to be removed and the lead deposited in the soil was much less than originally expected. 

      "Soil that was stockpiled at the top of the slope was removed and consolidated within an existing berm away from the bank of the La Crosse River and vegetated," McCarty said. "Due to the (favorable) results from the advance site visit, the screening of impacted range-floor soil was not needed."               

      AMEC completed re-vegetation of the disturbed soil with native vegetation along with stabilization of the soil as the best way to limit the transport of lead to the river, he said.


[ Top of Page ]

[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]