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Minnesota National Guard environmental team celebrates achievements

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Having just received word that the Minnesota Army National Guard (MNARNG) has won the 2013 Secretary of the Army Environmental Quality Team Award, the office is buzzing with excitement. Meanwhile, this accomplishment has propelled the team into competition for the same award but at the Department of Defense level. While these are exciting times for the entire office, the award process gives me a reason to reflect back on all the hard work and dedication from all members of the environmental team.

Individually, each member offers a technical skill for which they eat, sleep and breathe. These skills provide the foundation for the team which works in collaboration to address a myriad of environmental challenges and opportunities for the MNARNG. In looking back I would like to highlight some of the most noteworthy accomplishments in 2012 and 2013 that led to the team’s success:

• Establishment of three new online training courses for the MNARNG Learning Management System.

• Developed a proposal for a biomass district heating system for Camp Ripley covering seven buildings and subsequently displacing approximately 14,000 million cubic feet of natural gas usage.

• Completed the first Minnesota National Guard Joint Sustainability Master Plan, which provides an integrated approach toward achieving Net Zero in the areas of energy, water, and solid waste in conjunction with the Minnesota National Guard’s Campaign Plan.

• Launched MNARNG’s Sustainability Working Group, which is pursuing a variety of renewable energy alternatives for MNARNG facilities.

• Hosted hunting and fishing events for Disabled American Veterans and recently deployed Soldiers as a token of appreciation for their service.

• The team made 400 presentations to about 10,000 individuals as part of MNARNG’s environmental and community outreach programs.

• Prepared the Department of Military Affairs State Sustainability Plan to meet a state mandate regarding pollution prevention.

• Supervised phase two of the Operational Range.

• Assessment (ORA) for Camp Ripley with no negative findings.

• Updated the Camp Ripley Well Head Protection Plan representing one of the first updates in Minnesota. The team’s new format for a wellhead protection plan is viewed as a model by the Minnesota Department of Health.

• Enrolled 728 acres of priority land parcels into the Camp Ripley Army Compatible Use Buffer program.

• With in-house resources only, updated key program management plans for MNARNG including hazardous waste management, spill management and pest management.

• Trained facility managers in water use reduction and conservation as part of Net Zero goals and as a result, the MNARNG has reduced water usage by 26 percent based on a 2007 baseline and thereby has surpassed the 2 percent annual reduction goal.

While this only scratches the surface I am hopeful that it gives you a sense of what the team has done. We should know the outcome of the Department of Defense decision before Earth Day on April 22.