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October 26, 2012


Environmental management plan to support training mission

Completion and publication of the Fort McCoy Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) sets the environmental groundwork to support the installation’s training mission from 2012 forward.

Jim Kerkman, the installation forester and main author of the INRMP, said the plan, which recently was completed, helps ensure the installation can maximize its potential to conduct military training by being a wise environmental steward. At the same time, the efforts help support recreational activities at Fort McCoy for both the installation community and neighboring communities.
PHOTO: A helicopter crew drops water during a prescribed burn. File photo
A helicopter crew from the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment drops water during a prescribed burn at Fort McCoy. Prescribed burns are one management tool Fort McCoy uses to support its Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan. (File photo)

The INRMP undergoes a major revision when events warrant. Kerkman said the reason for major revisions include significant changes to the installation’s mission requirements, its natural resources or goals and objectives of the existing INRMP.

This revision occurred because the installation’s military mission is moving from a focus directed toward counter-insurgency training operations, including the use of forward operating bases, convoy defense and reaction training, to more large-scale maneuver elements involved in conventional force-on-force field training exercises, to include counter-insurgency training.

The last major revision was in 2005. Kerkman said the INRMP will continue to be updated on an annual basis until the next major revision is necessary.

Personnel from the many sections of the Natural Resources Branch, including program representatives from hunting, fishing, endangered species, invasive plants (exotic species) and cultural resources, provide input from an environmental standpoint, as does the Directorate of Plans, Training, Security and Mobilization from a training standpoint. Other organizations, such as the Directorate of Emergency Services, which provides enforcement support, also provide input for the plan.

Impacts from these activities, including prescribed burning, the Integrated Training Area Management program, pest control, game and fish enforcement, etc., are addressed in the plan.

Kerkman said input from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is incorporated into the plan as it is being formulated. The organizations represent the state and federal levels of the Sikes Act, which requires the compilation of the report. Public comment on the plan also was accepted and integrated into the report.
“Having a partnership with the state (WDNR) and the federal government (Fish and Wildlife) helps let them know we’re doing the right things,” Kerkman said. “The plan helps keep track of what’s been done and lets them know how well we are implementing our programs.”

“Any input we receive helps us improve our programs,” he added, “and promotes high-quality training lands so high-quality training can occur.”

The INRMP’s 13 major initiatives support three objectives from the installation’s Strategic Plan: 1) Enhancing Fort McCoy’s military value through improved training area utilization and land-use initiatives; 2) Acquiring, effectively using and continuously conserving resources; and 3) providing well-being programs that improve the quality of life for Soldiers, Families and employees.

Major INRMP initiatives include maintaining existing areas of oak savanna vegetation and increasing its acreage when compatible with military training. Kerkman said this provides excellent support for military training.

Other major initiatives include controlling invasive/exotic plant species and maintaining wildlife populations within land-carrying limits. These measures help ensure the land retains and maintains native ecosystems to support high-quality land use, Kerkman said.

“The plan helps to explain why we do the things we do to manage the natural resources at Fort McCoy,” Kerkman said. “It provides the framework for everything we do.”

Kerkman said the plan is integrated with the Fort McCoy Master Plan, the Range Complex Master Plan, the Integrated Cultural Resources Plan and other plans that address land use at Fort McCoy.

Objectives of the program are implemented in regards to the availability of funding and manpower and mission requirements, Kerkman said.

The plan is available at the Fort McCoy public website at http://www.mccoy.army.mil/ReadingRoom/documents/INRMP_public_review.pdf.

Among the other data included in the plan is Section F, which includes a listing of all the known and documented plant and animal species that have been identified at Fort McCoy.

As of March 2012, more than 230 bird, 53 mammal, 18 reptile, 12 amphibian and 30 fish species have been identified at the installation.

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