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.
Mark McCarty (left) and Mike
Gilmer, AMEC project manager, inspect erosion control matting on
(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
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,
The implementation of the plan will allow Fort McCoy to:
Identify potential environmental concerns
associated with lead contamination/migration at the facility's
Evaluate the risk and prioritize the
implementation of appropriate actions to manage any existing
Integrate site-specific best management
practices for managing lead in existing and/or future range
Determine which ranges are the most
conducive to future upgrading/transformation in regard to lead and
potential remediation requirements associated with land-use
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
"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.