Conservation is the wise use of land and natural resources. In our (the Army's) situation, it is stewardship of the natural environment of training lands. It involves balancing present training needs and long-term training site sustainability within the requirements of public land laws.
It is in the best interest of the Army to conserve its training lands. The lands the Army manages are growing effectively smaller as residential neighbors surround formerly rural facilities and as public scrutiny increases, as installations are closed under Base Realignment and Closure, and the Army will not be getting new lands soon.
Conservation is driven by federal, state and local laws and guided by Army Regulations. Although additional laws may apply, the primary laws that influence conservation and drive funding at Utah National Guard (UTNG) facilities are the:
- Sikes Act,
- Endangered Species Act,
- Noxious Weed Act,
- Clean Water Act,
- Clean Air Act, and
- National Environmental Policy Act.
The primary Army regulation that directs conservation is Army Regulation 200-3, “Natural Resources – Land, Forest and Wildlife Management,” soon to be superseded by the revised 200-1,
draft "Environmental Protection and Enhancement."
The Sikes Act is the key law that dictates how conservation on a military installation will get done. It prescribes that installations will complete an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP). The plan for Camp Williams was completed in 2001; a revision is scheduled to be complete in 2006. The Camp William’s INRMP lays the groundwork for management by describing the natural environment and land uses of the camp. The major issues in conservation for the camp include grazing, wildlife, wildfire, noxious and invasive weeds, land rehabilitation, soil resources, and wetlands.
Currently, the only other UTNG installation that requires an INRMP is the St. George Armory due to the presence of endangered species. Until the current cycle of drought over the last 6-7 years, two high-profile plant species protected under the Endangered Species Act were on or immediately adjacent to UTNG lands. These two species and several others have been documented on all the surrounding lands.
The topics that are addressed within the following links are those that might either affect training or be adversely affected by training. They each include a brief discussion of the issues with any available tools that might be used to more effectively plan training events. Most topics are discussed as they affect Camp Williams, but the concepts can be applied to training elsewhere in the state and give background to the perspective and requirements of other government agencies. “Endangered Species” are discussed for training at or adjacent to the St. George Armory, but potentially apply to all training.
Natural Resources Program Areas
Threatened or endangered plants and animals are protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C.A. §§ 1531-1543). All actions, including military training, must be evaluated as to their potential impact on any listed species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the regulating agency. The Endangered Species Act has serious personal and agency penalties and consequences when violated. State and Federal Species Lists can be downloaded from the "Public Documents" at the right.
No federally-listed species are known at Camp Williams and continuing surveys have not found evidence of the four most likely species so far. Prior to the last 6-7 years of drought, the dwarf bearclaw poppy (Arctomecon humilis) was found on the St. George Armory site and Local Training Area. Siler pincushion cactus (Pediocactus sileri) was found immediately adjacent to the armory. Fencing to allow only foot traffic and aggressive monitoring allowed the UTNG to limit management to informal consultation with the USFWS. "Taking" (harming) a protected species will have serious penalties to individuals and our agency. It is important that training taking place on non-UTNG sites be individually evaluated for potential species and impacts. Washington County, in particular, has a number of protected species. Protected species might be impacted by:
- Earth-moving activities and training, or
- Off-road vehicle traffic.
Wildfires are the single most significant problem at Camp Williams, and Utah in general, for the UTNG. It is critical that trainers be aware of the factors that might start fires as they or the UTNG may be held responsible for suppression:
- Vehicles and other mechanical operations (i.e., grading, excavations, etc.) in light, "flashy" fuels, like cheatgrass and other weeds,
- Smoking and cigarettes,
- campfires or other open flames, or
- Live fire training - small arms and artillery.
Traditional firebreaks, greenstrips, herbicide-created fuelbreaks, and state-of-the-art mechanically- and goat-thinned fuelbreaks are all used to reduce fire fuels and fire hazard. More on these fire hazard reduction projects can be found within the 2001-2006 INRMP. The Camp maintains a core of red card-certified wildland firefighters with slide-in pumper units and firetrucks.
Three fire danger signs warn trainers and other installation users of the current fire danger. Live fire training is restricted according to the fire danger. Trainers can save themselves trouble by not planning risky activities during high fire danger times using the following chart of probable monthly fire dangers for Camp Williams
Soils are the foundation for the natural environment and a primary focus of Camp William's Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program. Disturbing the natural soil structure causes a ripple effect on vegetation, diminishing concealment and habitat and increasing fire-prone plants, as well as creating gullies. Planning excavation-related training for the Designated Digging Areas will protect training area condition. Activities that might impact soils include:
- Excavation training,
- Construction, and
- Off-road driving and maneuvering when soils are wet.
The planning level soil survey was completed and published by the Natural Resource Conservation Service in 2001. Soil properties had been previously described in research by Utah State University (USU) for the UTNG in 1999. In addition, USU has completed two research projects on soils and potential erosion at Camp Williams - the results demonstrate that preserving vegetation cover is critical to preventing erosion. Disturbed soil is revegetated by native, desirable plants as soon as possible after disturbance.
Camp Williams has approximately 7.76 acres (~0.03% of total area) of water bodies, including wetlands, regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. A planning level wetland delineation project was completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1999. Consultation with ERM is required for activities that either occur within wetlands or activities adjacent to wetlands that might alter or affect them, including:
- mechanized training,
- placement of fill material,
- ditching activities,
- mechanized land clearing, and
- most road construction.
The following Training Areas have delineated wetlands:
|- Army Garrison
(along the Jordan River)
||- North Tickville
|- East Beef Hollow
||- Oak Springs
|- Hidden Valley
||- Prisoner of War
|- Impact Area
||- South Garrison
|- Jordan River
||- South Mountain
|- North Boundary
||- South Tickville
Camp Williams supports a wide variety of wildlife, including owls, hawks, eagles, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcat and mule deer. Our initial
faunal survey was completed by Utah State University in 1996. Breeding bird surveys, predator scent stations, and raptor banding are conducted annually. The camp has been a host site for a cougar population study conducted by Utah State University on behalf of the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources as well.
Training soldiers and installation personnel should avoid contact with wildlife. Attacks are unlikely unless provoked. Personnel utilizing areas with rodents should use the appropriate protection due to the possibility of hantavirus (contact the Health & Safety Office for more information). The principle impact by military activity will probably be related to disrupting nesting by the golden eagles, although historically the nests have been successful. Potential impacts include:
- Loud or continued training in nest vicinity, or
- Foot traffic and Rattlesnakes.