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Minnesota National Guard
Environmental Compliance

Environmental Security Award

The Army National Guard Environmental Security Awards honors installations, teams, and individuals for outstanding work in environmental programs. There are six categories, two of which MNARNG was successful in winning for 2015 – 2016, including Sustainability – Non-Industrial Installation and Natural Resources Conservation – Large Installation.

The Environmental Security Awards recognize MNARNG’s leadership in natural resources management and sustainability initiatives, both statewide and at Camp Ripley Training Center, which has long served as a showcase for the compatibility of environmental innovation and excellence with military training.

The MNARNG recognizes that incorporating sustainability into its operations, acquisitions, and infrastructure helps reduce its resource demands while preserving current and future operational flexibility. The MNARNG Joint Sustainability Master Plan outlines goals and strategies for achieving benchmark reductions in energy use, increasing recycling, promoting carpooling and transit programs, and eliminating waste streams.

Major MNARNG accomplishments contributing to the Environmental Security Awards include:

  • The establishment of a cross-functional Sustainability Working Group, focused on the implementation of renewable energy projects, energy use reduction, waste diversion, and water conservation

  • A funding proposal to the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for the development of a woody biomass district heating system at Camp Ripley secured recommendation of $1 million for the project design

  • A public-private partnership with Minnesota Power for the construction of a 10-megawatt utility-scale solar power plant on a 62-acre site at Camp Ripley, the largest solar array of its kind in Minnesota and the largest on any National Guard training site in the country to date

  • The expansion of recycling initiatives to include organics recycling and comingled recycling capability at Camp Ripley

  • Enrollment in PaintCare, a program that recycles unused paint through recycling and resale, conversion into fuel or other products, and proper disposal

  • An evaluation of the current water distribution system to identify potential water saving opportunities and research avenues to increase stormwater capture with the goal of maintaining 100% of rainfall from a 1.5-inch rainfall event at Camp Ripley

  • The purchase of four fuel-efficient, electric hybrid Chevy Volt vehicles used by custodial staff reduce the amount of gasoline consumption and tailpipe emissions at Camp Ripley

  • Full integration of sustainability goals into MNARNG operations and mission, particularly in areas related to energy conservation and use reduction, renewable energy production, green construction, and the Camp Ripley Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program

  • Establishment of Sentinel Landscapes into state law

  • Internal coordination through a strategic management system to track progress toward installation goals with visibility, transparency, and engagement across directorates

  • An outreach project delivered educational presentations to local sixth graders about the Net Zero concept as part of local science curriculum

Federal Green Challenge Award

The MNARNG received two awards through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Federal Green Challenge. The Federal Green Challenge is a national effort under the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program that recognizes agencies for outstanding efforts that go beyond regulatory compliance. The awards were based on competing agencies from EPA Region 5, Great Lakes.

First, the MNARNG received an Energy Award for achieving a 21% reduction in natural gas consumption compared to 2014. The reduction in energy consumption was realized through numerous initiatives. A project to install a geothermal ground source heat pump and retrofit existing heating ventilation and air conditioning system at Camp Ripley Garrison Headquarters was completed in 2015. Building automation system occupancy schedules were fine tuned to ensure transient-use facilities were set to unoccupied mode when not in use. The MNARNG also instituted an organization inspection program that incorporated an audit checklist targeting sustainable infrastructure and steps to reduce energy consumption.

Secondly, an Education and Outreach Award was received for the Energy Efficiency Challenge launched in 2014. The Energy Efficiency Challenge was developed to meet the targeted 3% annual reduction in energy consumption outlined in the Minnesota National Guard Campaign Plan. Environmental staff conducted site visits to 37 participating armories, meeting with facility managers to provide educational outreach materials and assist with access to Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond, a web based tool used to monitor energy consumption. As a result of the Energy Efficiency Challenge, an energy use intensity reduction of 4% was achieved from the previous year along with $55,285 total savings.

Recycling, Pollution Prevention (P2) & Waste Reduction

Camp Ripley is an active participant and advocate of the Minnesota National Guard Qualified Recycle Program (QRP).  The purpose of the QRP is to promote sustainability along with environmental stewardship responsibility. This is accomplished through the of:
  1. waste reduction through efficiency and optimum material usage and packaging,
  2. reuse and re-issuance of containers and other reusable items and also repairing existing equipment,
  3. and diversion of valuable materials to end markets and purchase of recycled products.
Proceeds from all QRP sales support new infrastructure, new equipment, and Soldier morale and welfare projects.  A QRP is an installation wide recycling program. Under the concept of “the state as an installation," installation is understood to mean the Minnesota National Guard, while most of the QRP proceeds are generated at Camp Ripley, the benefits of the program are intended to be shared throughout the Minnesota Army National Guard.

Due to recycling efforts, Camp Ripley disposes of only 1.53 pounds of waste per person per training day, much lower than the national consumer average of 4 pounds per day. More than 61 percent of the waste generated onsite is recycled. Recycling fuel, oil, antifreeze, solvents, metal, plastics, glass, batteries, toner cartridges, fluorescent tubes, wood pallets, and concrete contribute to the waste reduction.  In addition to the recycling efforts, the Minnesota National Guard also researches innovative technological concepts on waste reduction equipment and techniques. 

New equipment is purchased after a careful cost benefit analysis is run justifying the expenditure.  New techniques are employed if analysis justifies the merit for a change.


The Central Lakes College (CLC) Natural Resource Department has recently added several water resources courses to its curriculum.  These classes are intended to enhance the natural resources curriculum and better prepare students for careers in water resources-related fields. A partnership between the Minnesota Army National Guard and the college enables CLC to utilize the Camp Ripley Training Site as an open air class comprised of 53,000 acres of a variety of terrestrial and aquatic resources, including wetlands, lakes, streams, and rivers, including the Mississippi River.  CLC utilizes Camp Ripley as a real world field laboratory as part of the water resources curriculum. In turn the field data is incorporated into Camp Ripley’s existing water quality data base in the interest of expanding and understanding water quality trends on Camp Ripley.

The Environmental Department also works with St Cloud State University for interns to test invasive species control measures and determine the best mix of chemical, biological, and mechanical techniques.  Biological and mechanical techniques are preferred over chemicals whenever possible.  The Environmental Department has also worked with St. Could State University and the University of Minnesota – Duluth to track various surface water and groundwater quality trends.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

NEPA analysis is required for all - new or different Federal activities proposed by the Army National Guard (ARNG).  As such, the NEPA process affects almost everyone involved in ARNG Proposed Actions, at all levels, at varying degrees.

If initiating a Federal activity the environmental staff will evaluate the action and make the determination of what level of NEPA will be needed.  If you have questions regarding the NEPA program for the MNARNG please feel free to contact Joe LaForce at 320-616-2621.
eMS & Sustainability

The Minnesota National Guard has developed an Environmental Management System covering various aspects of military operations and the impacts they have on the environment. These aspects are covered in sustainability practices currently implemented and future endeavors of the Minnesota National Guard.

Sustainability is a concept that will allow us to remain viable as a military force well into the future by becoming "system thinkers." That is, to try and understand what the future impacts of the decisions we make today will be on our mission, community, and environment.

By implementing sound business and environmental practices today, we can ensure our ability to meet future mission requirements and have a positive impact on our surroundings. For additional information regarding sustainability and the Minnesota National Guard, please click here.


Energy conservation does not imply “doing without.”  It is a phrase that describes a range of activities that use our resources wisely and reduces waste. Simple tasks such as turning off lighting in unoccupied areas and keeping doors closed continue to have an enormous potential to achieve greater energy efficiency. Changing behavior to reduce energy waste is a constant challenge and it must involve everyone.

The Challenge!

Beginning April 2014, the Minnesota Army National Guard issued a challenge to all facilities that have a consistent year of energy data and have not had improvements to the energy infrastructure in the past or current year are eligible to compete in an energy savings challenge. Facilities that decrease overall consumption by 3% will receive recognition awards such as a personalized facility mat, drill floor podium, or projector screen. The facility that reduces energy intensity by the greatest amount will be eligible to receive an energy efficient upgrade to that facility. Staff from the Facility Management Office (FMO) visited all the armories to distribute awareness materials and to help staff at the facility understand how to monitor the facilities energy usage and methods that reduces wasteful consumption.  Eliminating waste to the greatest extent requires a concentrated effort from military members, civilian employees, and everyone using the facility.  Rise to the challenge and make energy savings a sustaining effort.

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Net Zero

With diminishing resources and funding constraints, the Minnesota National Guard is striving to do more with the resources we have and to produce less waste from the resources we consume.  This concept is known as Net Zero. 

The Army’s Net Zero program is comprised of five interrelated steps: 1) Reduction; 2) Re-purpose; 3) Recycling and composting; 4) Energy recovery; and 5) Disposal. 

Each step is a link towards achieving Net Zero relative to reducing energy consumption, promoting water conservation, and diverting waste from landfill disposal.

Water Festival

The event is held each year in September and is sponsored by the Morrison County Soil & Water Conservation District.  The Water Festival is a cooperative effort by various agencies and citizens including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Morrison County Planning and Zoning, Science Museum of MN and Camp Ripley. With each agency playing a unique role in the event, the goal is to enhance conservation and water related educational experiences for all sixth grade students throughout Morrison County. The festival’s purpose is to create a better awareness of conservation and water resources in the area through education. The festival featured opportunities to learn about conservation, water, wetlands, and wildlife in Morrison County.

MNNG Environmental Management System pamphlet.pdf

2017 Consumer Confidence Report.pdf

Camp Ripley Installation Map.pdf

Minnesota Adjutant General's Environmental Statement.pdf

Environmental Compliance Annual Report.pdf

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding the Minnesota National Guard Environmental Projects, please contact:

CPT Seth Goreham
Environmental Program Manager
(320) 616-2620

Jay Brezinka
Environmental Program Manager
(320) 616-2618

Scott Albers
Hazardous Waste Manager
(320) 616-2616

Zac Alexander
Spill Plan Manager, Pest Mgmt Coordinator, LMS Admin
(320) 616-3003

Mark Erickson
Solid Waste Manager/QRP
(320) 616-2625

Lynn Houle
Budget Execution/Accounting
(320) 616-2627

Joe LaForce
(320) 616-2621

Gary Nierengarten
Air/Site Assistance Visits
(320) 616-2624

Katie Retka
Sustainability Manager
(320) 616-2640

Lori Ruff
Sustainability Analyst
(320) 616-2619

Fax: 320-632-7473

15000 Highway 115,, Camp Ripley
Little Falls, MN 56345-4173