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Minnesota National Guard
Camp Ripley receives national Natural Resources Conservation Award

Camp Ripley receives national Natural Resources Conservation Award Natural resource conservation staff from Camp Ripley, a Minnesota Army National Guard facility near Little Falls, received the Natural Resources Conservation Award at a Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards ceremony at the Pentagon recently

Camp Ripley receives national Natural Resources Conservation Award Natural resource conservation staff from Camp Ripley, a Minnesota Army National Guard facility near Little Falls, received the Natural Resources Conservation Award at a Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards ceremony at the Pentagon recently

Among those accepting the award were Nancy Dietz and Brian Dirks, animal survey staff, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Camp Ripley natural conservation program partners include the Guard, the DNR, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and St Cloud State University

Camp Ripley has been a protector of the Mississippi River and its ecosystem for many years, with 53,000 acres of land Lands devoted to conservation include about 28,000 acres of forest land, 8,800 acres of wetlands and 7,700 acres of grasslands

These areas support 565 plant species, 126 bird species, 41 species of fish, 107 types of aquatic invertebrates, 65 species of butterflies, 51 mammal species, 23 reptiles and amphibians, and 8 mussel species

Wildlife species of particular interest include the bald eagle, white-tailed deer, black bear, gray wolf, red-shouldered hawk and fisher

Wildlife studies show compatibility between military activities and wildlife For example, Dietz said a radio telemetry study found that the Camp Ripley gray wolves are adaptable and breed and raise their young relatively close to military activities Two wolf packs live within Ripley's borders, she said

A study of black bears was initiated at Camp Ripley in 1991 The study is part of a statewide research project conducted by the DNR The principal objectives of this study include monitoring of reproduction and cub survival and examination of habitat use and movements with GPS telemetry The study showed a population of 20-25 bears, of which 11 are currently radio-collared

The DNR began monitoring the deer population at Camp Ripley in 1954, the first year of the annual white-tail bow hunt Over 5,500 hunters visit Ripley every year during special hunts for deployed Soldiers, disabled American veterans and youth The hunts are administered in partnership with the DNR

The Blandings turtle is a species of special concern in Minnesota, and Camp Ripley's natural resources staff have worked to enhance turtle habitat and protect them from impacts, increasing their survival rates

The animal survey staff are also studying song birds, fisher and Red-shouldered hawks The study found 30 to 40 nesting pairs of these hawks at Ripley "These birds like big blocks of undisturbed land for hunting prey like small mammals, frogs and toads," said Dirks

Forest management is a big part of the natural resources conservation program All Ripley forestry activities are conducted in partnership with the DNR, including harvests, rehabilitation, replanting, nursery development, and invasive species control Special legislation returns state timber revenues to Camp Ripley for its reforestation and forest-management program

The DNR and TNC work with Camp Ripley personnel to conduct prescribed burns and combat wildland fires Prescribed fires reduce fuels, minimize the spread of invasive species, and encourage natural diversity on nearly 11,000 acres every year

The Camp Ripley Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program helps prevent encroachment and further fragmentation of lands, which can contribute to loss of habitat and subsequent decline in threatened or endangered species Since the program's inception in 2004, approximately 5,000 acres have been acquired through purchase or permanent easement

Tri-County News
August 20, 2009
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