By Barry R. Napp (U.S. Army Environmental Command)April 18, 2013
Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field (FS/HAAF) won the Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for cultural resources management in the installation category for fiscal year 2012.
The installation Cultural Resources Management (CRM) program staff are very close to completing an archaeological survey of 284,000 acres at FS/HAAF; only 45,000 acres of prime training land are left to survey in southeast Georgia. This means the CRM program is shifting from a survey to an evaluation posture. The staff is also surveying more than 4,000 archaeological sites and 309 historic buildings. The next step is to review all potential National Register-eligible sites to more efficiently and effectively reduce training land encumbrances.
To date, 49 of 4,000 known sites have been identified as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, while 379 need further evaluation. This has reduced training lands encumbered by protected CRM sites to only 0.27% of FS and 0.03% of HAAF.
Fort Argyle, an early 18th century outpost protecting the new colony of Georgia, is the only NRHP-listed property on FS/HAAF. Another significant cultural resource is a Native American burial site called the Lewis Mound, which is a potential sacred site so its location is protected by CRM staff.
Training land sustainability is the key component of the CRM mission and directly supports FS/HAAF capability as one of the Army's premier training and power projection platforms on the Atlantic Coast, ready to deploy Soldiers to any area of operation in the world within 24 hours.
According to Thomas Fry, the chief of the Environmental Division, the central emphasis of the CRM program is to allow Soldiers to maximize training opportunities while supporting conservation efforts (such as maintaining Red Cockaded Woodpecker habitat) and enhance range sustainment through archaeological surveys.
FS/HAAF was recognized for their close academic ties to cultural resource programs at both Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia, and CRM staff hold memberships in such organizations as the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Society for Georgia Archaeology. CRM personnel volunteer with Georgia Southern University's excavations of the recently discovered Camp Lawton, a Civil War prisoner of war camp, and they played a central role in coordinating cemetery tours for the Fort Stewart Cemetery Council.
Part of the CRM mission is to instruct Soldiers and civilians on each unit's cultural resource compliance and stewardship requirements.
"We accomplish this through quarterly Environmental Compliance Officer courses, Environmental Quality Control Committee meetings and newspaper articles," said Tressa Rutland, chief of the Compliance and Pollution Prevention Branch. "Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield staff also developed a cultural resource protection poster which was disseminated widely on the installation. Twice each year this poster, along with an article in the Fort Stewart Patch newspaper, spreads the protection of historic resources message. CRM also gives classes and educational talks at local schools and state historical sites."
As the winner of this Secretary of the Army environmental award category, Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield will go on this spring to represent the Army and compete at the Secretary of Defense Cultural Resource Management Environmental Awards Program. The competition recognizes individuals, teams and installations for their outstanding achievements to conserve and sustain the natural and cultural resources entrusted to the Department of Defense.