Camp Ripley preserves, protects environmental and cultural resources

By Staff Sgt. Anthony Housey
Camp Ripley Public Affairs

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. (Nov. 9, 2016) The environmental team at Camp Ripley continues to be proud of their reputation for conserving the natural and cultural resources of central Minnesota.

Additionally, the team supports unit readiness through research, guidance and implementation of sustainable, environmentally-responsible practices.

“Since the increase in operational tempo, over the past few decades, the need for usable training lands became a significant demand for military and emergency response agencies,” said Jay Brezinka, Environmental Supervisor with the Minnesota National Guard. “The role of the Environmental Office has been critical in accommodating the needs of the military mission while mitigating possible impacts on our natural resources.”

Camp Ripley continues to be the largest state game refuge in Minnesota spanning over 53,000 acres to include 18 miles of pristine Mississippi River shoreline. Due to its diverse history and developing potential it has been identified as one of the most culturally and ecologically-rich environments in the Midwest.

The supervision of this resource, for the benefit to the military mission, environmental stewardship and the community connection, is tasked to Camp Ripley – both culturally and environmentally.

“Camp Ripley is home to over 565 types of plants and nearly 325 species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals all in an area which historically has been used by several different cultures for many, many years,” added Jake Kitzmann, Natural Resource Manager at Camp Ripley.

Wildlife management is usually explained as an effort to balance the requirements of wildlife and the needs of the people using the same area through the best available methods.

“This job relies on scientific methods combined with local sources of knowledge to implement sound management strategies,” added Kitzmann.

Methods of population management used by the Camp Ripley environmental team along with the Department of Natural Resources included the reduction of bonus tags during this year’s hunts. This will help meet the intent of allowing the herd to grow over the next few years.

“Consecutive high harvest years is not sustainable for whitetail populations,” said Kitzmann. “We want to offer more opportunity to hunters, and to do that, we’ll need to increase the size of the herd a bit.”

Thousands of visitors pass through the Camp Ripley environmental office annually as part of community outreach to help explain the efforts of activities on Camp Ripley.

The valuable future of Camp Ripley is just dependent upon the environmental management programs. It depends mostly on people – whether they are hunters, land users or community members.