Proactive stewardship of 411 historic buildings and structures, and 663 archaeological sites, some dating back to prehistoric times, gained the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Wainwright recognition as the FY 2013 Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards winner for cultural resources management in the installation category.
According to Col. S.C. Zemp, Fort Wainwright's garrison commander, the installation Cultural Resources Management Program plays a vital role in the strategic management of Fort Wainwright's 1.6 million acres. Those lands total approximately 10 percent of the Army's total land inventory and have a varied cultural history spanning 13,000 years.
This requires preserving and protecting the post's resources in a way that also enables Soldier readiness. The CRMP supports Fort Wainwright, which includes a main post area, seven major training areas and a number of satellite locations, in achieving its ever-changing military mission.
The post, established as Ladd Field in 1939, was initially a small cold-weather test station that expanded during World War II into a large and strategically important installation. After the war, it became Ladd Air Force Base, charged with air defense along with reconnaissance missions and cold weather testing and research. In 1961, it transferred back to the Army as Fort Jonathan Wainwright.
"Fort Wainwright proudly recognizes the dedicated efforts of a talented, multi-disciplined team who developed the post's Cultural Resources Management Plan and then put in the work and tremendous effort to ensure it exceeded all expectations," said Lisa Graham, cultural resources manager, Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division.
Training land sustainability is a key component of the Fort Wainwright mission and directly supports the enhancement of Soldiers combat readiness of and quality of life for their Family members. There are many challenges of sustaining both the environment and training Soldiers as the installation's boundaries stretch over 100 miles with training capabilities unmatched in the U.S.
The CRMP staff revised and updated the Integrated Cultural Resource Management Plan in FY13 for the first time since Fort Wainwright ceased being part of the U.S. Army Garrison, Alaska, headquartered at Fort Richardson. The revision formalized and solidified Fort Wainwright's independent management of cultural resources and successfully implemented an Operations and Maintenance Programmatic Agreement that streamlines the consultation process under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
During the review period, the CRMP inventoried Alaskan lands that have been inhabited since the end of the glacial period, approximately 13,000 years ago. The team recorded 126 sites and completed determinations of eligibility for 33 sites. Thirteen of these are prehistoric sites determined eligible for the National Register. They include several multi-component stratified, late Pleistocene sites in the Tanana Flats complete with stone tools and animal bones.
During this same period, the CRMP protected two sites from potential damage and regularly monitored 131 sites to determine if there were any effects from range use. At the end of FY12, the CRMP amended the Battle Area Complex Surface Danger Zone Programmatic Agreement to include a streamlined approach for monitoring sites based on training schedules. This will save approximately $17,000 annually for the duration of the agreement.
An important part of the CRMP mission is to instruct Soldiers and civilians on each unit's cultural resource compliance and stewardship requirements. Each month, the CRMP staff presents training on Alaska native cultural awareness and cultural resources awareness, including responsible land use, to Soldiers and their families at newcomer orientations. Presentations are also given on these topics and respectful land use during Earth Day activities and at Fort Wainwright's youth newcomer program, Camp Cheechacko.
According to Zemp, the role of local Native Alaskan tribal governments, civil government, academic institutions and local civic groups cannot be underestimated.
"Our partners share this honor with the CRMP, the Fort Wainwright Garrison and the rest of U.S. Army Alaska," he said. "The Fort Wainwright CRMP is a vital part of and plays a key role in the strategic management and proactive stewardship of cultural and natural resources so all may enjoy."
As the winner of this Secretary of the Army environmental award category, the Fort Wainwright Cultural Resources Management Team will go on to represent the Army and compete at the next level at the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards this spring.
The competition recognizes individuals, teams and installations for their outstanding achievements to conserve and sustain the natural and cultural resources entrusted to the entire Department of Defense.
"We are proud of our team here at Fort Wainwright and truly feel we have an integrated program," said Lisa Graham, cultural resources manager, DPW Environmental Division. "Across the board teamwork, government-to-government tribal consultation and partnering with Texas A&M University, led to our program's recognition with the Secretary of the Army award."