Environmental broom follows big exercises at Guernsey

Staff Sgt. Eric Moore, 197th Public Affairs Detachment

The 142nd Field Artillery Brigade from Arkansas and four support battalions from South Dakota strained resources here during June. Then came dealing with the aftermath of such large-scale training.

Each year, approximately 118,386 soldiers—in units of all kinds, including the infantry, artillery, airborne and special forces—visit the camp and its surrounding training areas, about 78,000 acres, causing significant wear and tear. Therefore, the land requires consistent maintenance and protection for it to be able to withstand future training.

That protection and repair falls to the Integrated Training Area Management team, and the Environmental Program Office.

“We are basically responsible for the accessibility, availability, and capability of the training areas of Camp Guernsey for whatever units come to train here,” said Dustin Kafka, Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) coordinator for the camp.

Units with special needs meet with the operations section at the Training Site Office. Requests such as tree removal and flattening roads require visiting operations and subsequent contact with the ITAM team, which weighs in on what it can do.

After their training is over, and soldiers get on those trains and planes to go home, Kafka and company begin carrying out their careful plan for sustainment. Kafka prioritizes the work his team performs with short-term and long-term approaches.

Short-term goals ensure the repair of any damages made by the units that trained. “We want the next unit coming in to have the same opportunities to meet their objectives,” Kafka said. This may consist of filling in ruts made by vehicles and filling in large divots from the impacts of artillery shells.

The long-term goal addresses what that land might look like years down the road. “We really don’t want to tear this place up so bad that we break it,” Kafka said.

The ITAM uses farming and construction equipment to assist with land repair and site development. Any areas that require maintenance or repair, or what Kafka calls “maneuver damage,” are repaired. The team also uses Geographic Information System Management and unmanned aerial vehicles to track and monitor areas needing repair.

The ITAM, which was a part of the environmental team until 2005, consistently works with Capt. Sabrina Kirkpatrick, the Environmental Program manager for the State of Wyoming to ensure all laws and regulations for environmental factors are followed.

During the whole process Kirkpatrick is hard at work with her team protecting the cultural and natural resources for the camp. Kirkpatrick, with the help of eight employees in her charge, helps regulate and monitor Camp Guernsey’s cultural and natural resources, the disposal of any hazardous waste material, and all regulatory and compliance issues that may arise.

“We are here to sustain the training land for future soldiers,” Kirkpatrick said.

There are federal guidelines that must be followed to allow training to take place, according to Kirkpatrick. The biggest one is the Record of Environmental Consideration. “It is the environmental and legal document that authorizes all activity to take place,” Kirkpatrick said. “They are a big part of our day.”

Kirkpatrick’s team may also contact the State Historic Preservation officer to discuss the cultural impact of training and ensure that certain sites are not affected when fighting fires, for example.

Working together to protect and preserve Camp Guernsey as custodians, they can assure training will continue for future generations of soldiers.

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