From bullets to birds: Lake City Army Ammunition Plant on watch

By Matthew Wheaton, Joint Munitions Command, Public and Congressional AffairsNovember 28, 2023

From bullets to birds: Lake City Army Ammunition Plant on watch
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – An American Kestral, named Gauge, was rescued from a production building at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. He was captured in the building, rehabilitated by a local rescue, and released back to an open area close to where he was found. (Photo Credit: Olin Winchester) VIEW ORIGINAL
From bullets to birds: Lake City Army Ammunition Plant on watch
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lake City Ammunitions Plant’s Veteran’s Lake covers approximately 37 acres. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) VIEW ORIGINAL
From bullets to birds: Lake City Army Ammunition Plant on watch
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Wild turkeys on the move at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) VIEW ORIGINAL
From bullets to birds: Lake City Army Ammunition Plant on watch
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A white-tailed deer fawn hides out at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, a subordinate of the Joint Munitions Command, fulfills its commitment to the environment through a comprehensive plan for managing natural resources.

LCAAP is in Jackson County, Missouri, and is located between Independence and Blue Springs. The facility covers an area of 3,935 acres and houses 375 buildings that are dedicated to the production of small arms ammunition and associated processes. Within this expanse, more than 2,340 acres consist of brushlands, forests, ponds, streams, wetlands, and Veteran's Lake, which is approximately 37 acres and in the northwest corner of LCAAP.

LCAAP provides habitat for a diverse ecosystem, including 157 distinct plant species, 104 bird species, and nine mammalian species — American beavers, bobcats, coyotes, eastern cottontails, eastern gray squirrels, fox squirrels, racoons, striped skunks, and white-tailed deer — along with various reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods that have chosen it as their habitat.

Within this thriving ecosystem, the conservation efforts at LCAAP have led to the flourishing of native species, contributing to its reputation as an environmental sanctuary.

“Our commitment to sustainable practices has resulted in the successful coexistence of military operations and environmental preservation,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Denton, LCAAP’s commander. “As the installation continues to evolve, it remains dedicated to safeguarding its natural surroundings and promoting ecological diversity.”

LCAAP's natural resource initiative encompasses hunting and fishing; the management of invasive species such as Johnson grass, autumn olive, sericea lespedeza (commonly known as Chinese bushclover), Japanese honeysuckle, Amur honeysuckle, and multiflora rose; the preservation of threatened and endangered species; the conservation of wetlands; and the supervision of wildlife and fisheries. These activities are governed by plans and evaluations conducted throughout the year.

LCAAP is partnering with its prime contract partner, Olin Winchester, to form a volunteer program that will focus on cultivating a sustainable and inviting habitat for wildlife. Bird boxes will be installed, and native grasses and trees that offer vegetation and protection cover are set to be planted. A walking trail with signs, which highlight some of LCAAP’s unique plant life, will also be developed.

Several wildlife rescues have been performed at LCAAP over the years. Most recently, a young American Kestral was found in one of the production buildings. It was safely caught and sent to a local rescue where he was treated for dehydration. He was later named Gauge and released in an open area near where he was found.

Additionally, LCAAP will become the new home of several ground squirrels which must be relocated from their current location. They will join other ground squirrels already living on the installation.

Wildlife management efforts at LCAAP primarily revolve around habitat management, except for cases involving white-tailed deer and wild turkey. These two species possess the potential to negatively impact LCAAP’s ecosystem if their populations remain uncontrolled. In addition, predator populations, such as coyotes, are subject to regulation.

Management of the deer population at LCAAP is achieved through controlled hunts, and only employees and their immediate families can partake in. They are not open to the public.

In partnership with Peterson Outdoors Ministries, LCAAP hosts spring and winter deer and turkey hunts for Veterans and takes great pride in sharing the installation’s property and wooded areas with those who have made the selfless sacrifice of protecting our freedom. These annual hunts serve as networking opportunities and provide outdoor recreational therapy for injured and recovering veterans and their families.

Sixty-three permits have been issued for this year’s hunting season. Each hunter is allowed three deer blinds. Handicap accessible blinds are placed prior to the Veteran's hunt dependent on the number of Veterans who sign up to participate.

Over the past few years, the wild turkey population has seen a significant decline, and turkey hunting at LCAAP has been suspended until the population stabilizes.

The Clean Water Act extends its protective embrace to wetlands, acknowledging their ecological significance. Rigorous assessments are conducted for any activities or initiatives that might impact these invaluable ecosystems. The overarching goal is to identify and implement strategies aimed at minimizing, reducing, or neutralizing potential detrimental effects. LCAAP takes an active stance in safeguarding wetlands, prioritizing the prevention of any harm.

“LCAAP continuously engages in ecological restoration efforts, aiming to enhance wetland health and resilience. Collaborating with local conservation groups, the installation undertakes initiatives such as wetland vegetation restoration and water quality improvement programs,” Denton said. “These proactive measures serve not only to preserve existing wetlands but also to rejuvenate and sustain their ecological value, ensuring they remain thriving habitats for diverse flora and fauna while maintaining their vital role in water purification and flood control.

“This multifaceted approach underscores LCAAP's dedication to the long-term well-being of wetlands and the broader environment,” he added.

LCAAP’s fish population is monitored to allow for appropriate growth without overcrowding Veteran’s Lake, also serves as a home to water lilies, and they promote the ecosystem thriving both below and above the water’s surface.

“We recognize that the primary mission of LCAAP is to provide small arms ammunition to our nation’s warfighters,” Denton said. “An equally important mission is to preserve the environment and keep it sustainable for all living things.”