Cass County Board: Less booming expected from Camp Ripley this summer

BACKUS--Camp Ripley Deputy Post Commander Chad Sackett presented an overview of the post's economic impact on the community and activities planned there for 2016.

BACKUS-Camp Ripley Deputy Post Commander Chad Sackett presented an overview of the post's economic impact on the community and activities planned there for 2016.

Camp Ripley, just north of Little Falls, was started in the 1930s, Sackett said. Additional training structures and buildings have been added over the years. Now, some of the oldest facilities are being upgraded and updated, he added.

This contributes significantly to Ripley's expenditures in the community. Ripley spent $9,349,610 on special projects in 2015. Sackett said this actually was down from some recent years.

Total 2015 Ripley expenditures ran $133,631,855 and included a $66,340,250 payroll. It also included $4,337,880 spent toward developing the compatible use buffer around Ripley where landowners can either sell their property to Ripley or get compensated for not developing it.

Ripley uses a 2.1591 multiplier index to show the additional financial impact on the community from employees spending their Ripley income and contractors spending theirs. This gives Ripley a total area financial impact of $288,524,538 for 2015, Sackett said.


Military training largely occurs at Ripley during summer months. Five Minnesota units will train there in May.

Also, Sackett said, brigades will move out of Ripley for training in May. People driving around the camp and on the highways around Staples likely will see heavy equipment and many trucks moving through the area in May.

June is Ripley's busiest month, with 17 units training then. This includes several from Minnesota, three from Iowa and one each from Illinois, North Dakota and Wisconsin. June also is the month set for the 43rd annual exchange with a Norwegian military unit.

The seven units scheduled to train at Ripley in July are all Minnesota units except one company from Ohio. There will be one artillery unit in June and one in August this year, so Ripley neighbors will have fewer days of hearing loud booming noises this summer, Hackett said.

By September, the military training shifts from week-long to weekends, Sackett said. There also is a shift to more community use of the training facilities.

Morrison County Water Festival will take place there. Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Department of Transportation will train at Ripley in September.

There will be DNR deployed soldier and disabled veteran hunts at Ripley in October and a Minnesota Fire Marshal training class. Minnesota National Guard Court of Honor is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Oct. 2 at Ripley.

Ripley now has a medical simulation training center. It will not only be used to train military medics to treat personnel on the battlefield, but also to train civilian emergency medical personnel.


The education center has been expanded to include a new cafeteria and dining hall, more and larger classrooms with better electronic capabilities, an auditorium and additional sleeping rooms, Hackett said.

Minnesota DNR, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Transportation Department and Homeland Security all have offices at Camp Ripley and do training there, Sackett said.

Ripley has had a wetland, wildlife, fisheries and forestry management program for a long time. Ripley does controlled burns each spring to prevent wildfires. That encourages native meadow grass growth. Ripley has its own fire department.

The wildlife management they do at Ripley tracks many animals, from small bats to large bears. A golden eagle winters there and summers in the Arctic Circle.

Now, they are adding green energy, including geothermal and solar.

Camp Ripley is cooperating with Minnesota Power this year to install a 10 megawatt solar power system, which will generate more than three times the wattage Ripley uses.

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