Camp Ripley begins prescribed burns to reduce risk of wildfire
CAMP RIPLEY — Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
This year, despite training events being rescheduled due to COVID-19 concerns, the Camp Ripley team will continue as planned starting Tuesday, April 7.
Unlike the previous year when Camp Ripley conducted controlled burns on approximately 17,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation, the team will conduct hazard mitigation burns for potential risk areas only, reducing the size of many of the burns.
“Small fires are common dependent on the type of training being conducted. There are safety protocols, but as an installation, we like to get ahead of it before a fire happens,” stated Pat Boone, Camp Ripley fire chief, in a news release.
The controlled burns are done in coordination with trained staff members of the Camp Ripley Fire Department, Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Many of the native grasses on Camp Ripley are fire dependent species. “The controlled burns eliminate old and dried grass allowing new shoots to spring forth,” according to an environmental spokesman for Camp Ripley.
“We are taking extra precautions this season and working with our state partners to prevent any potential health risks that may be escalated by the current situations,” added Boone.
All considerations are being taken into account such as how the smoke is lifting from the fire, to prevent health risks like smoke inhalation for those working the burn as well as those in the surrounding areas.
Residents of the Little Falls, Randall, Pillager, Baxter, Brainerd and Fort Ripley areas may notice or smell smoke originating from Camp Ripley. These periodic controlled burns will be conducted throughout the spring season to mitigate the risk of wildfires that may potentially endanger training.