WASHINGTON – Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield is located southwest of Savannah, Ga. and is home to the 3rd Infantry Division.
This combined arms division is the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River and has a distinguished history, dating back to World War I.
Their Cultural Resources Management program has long been successful in supporting and complementing the military mission by reducing training land restrictions, elevating conservation efforts, advancing archaeological surveys, and reinforcing the Army’s commitment to the history and cultural resources abundant in the community.
They were recently awarded the 2020 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for Cultural Resource Management for the Team/Individual category.
When a breached tide gate was discovered, installation officials knew they needed to pull together a team of experts to address the unique combination of engineering and regulatory issues related to the age and location of the structures. The location of the breach was in proximity to two 19th century water control structures that were causing erosion to and around the structures; the structures affected included an 18th century Ranger Outpost listed on the National Register of Historic Places and an upstream railway causeway and trestle.
Through early coordinated efforts with the State Historic Preservation Office, the team was able to develop an archaeological avoidance plan to preserve the two water control structures.
This effort included encapsulation of the exposed historic structure back to its original pre-tide gate breach condition. They also monitored the construction activities to ensure no adverse impacts would occur.
To prevent erosion and sedimentation at the site, the team placed fill and riprap in the marsh to stabilize and protect the historic causeway and wharf structure. Those measures will help prevent future flooding at the “Sleepy Hollow” Training Area, reduce continued erosion of the upstream rail assets used for deployment, and protect the natural and cultural resources that have been entrusted to FS/HAAF.
CRM staff also used the opportunity to conduct archaeological surveys on 265,911 acres of the installation’s 266,862 acres that are accessible and completed building surveys on all structures built up to 1990. They identified eligible properties for the NRHP designation and added them to the Cultural Resource Action Plan for long-term protection and monitoring.
These efforts also reduced the number of encumbered areas, allowing for unrestricted access to more training grounds and land management activities. This level of access supports the Installation Strategic Plan through active participation in the Sustainability Management System’s Training Lands Process Action Team and the Integrated Management Prescription Team.
“While this project was unique, this type of project coordination with multiple partner agencies is not unique. Our team’s ongoing relationships with important stakeholders has served us well. While we regularly review all real property, range, maintenance, engineering projects, and non-routine training events, this project has set us up for future success and will provide cost savings and installation readiness in the future,” said Thomas Fry, Environmental/Natural Resources Division chief.
Throughout the process, the team reinforced community relations through a comprehensive public outreach program that included archaeology discussion panels at Georgia Southern University, Historic Communities and Cemeteries Council meetings, hands-on historic cemetery preservation events with local schoolchildren, and presentations, briefings, and training for FS/HAAF personnel and military Families. They also participated in Earth Day and Native American Heritage Day celebrations.
The team was led by DA Civilian CRM Program Manager, Brian Greer. The HAAF Tide Gate Project Team included Kyle Daniels, FS/HAAF Engineering; Dena Thompson and Mark Puhalla, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project managers; Melissa Kendrick, FS/HAAF National Environmental Policy Act program manager; Larry Carlile, FS/HAAF Fish & Wildlife Branch chief; and contract staff provided by Aerostar SES, Ashley Moss, archaeological field technician; Jessie Larson, archaeological and curations specialist; and George Harris, wetlands/water resources specialist.