Camp Ripley Will Begin Its Controlled Burn Program Despite COVID-19 Concerns
Despite training events being rescheduled due to COVID-19 concerns, Camp Ripley will begin its annual Controlled Burn Program to help reduce the risk of wildfires during training. Environmentalists say the controlled burns eliminate old and dried grass, allowing new shoots to spring forth.
Last year, Camp Ripley conducted controlled burns on approximately 17,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. However, this year the team will conduct hazard mitigation burns for potential risk areas only, reducing the size of many of the burns.
Residents of the Little Falls, Randall, Pillager, Baxter, Brainerd and Fort Ripley areas may notice or smell smoke originating from Camp Ripley. These periodic controlled burns will be conducted throughout the spring season to mitigate the risk of wildfires that may potentially endanger training.
“Small fires are common dependent on the type of training being conducted. There are safety protocols, but as an installation, we like to get ahead of it before a fire happens,” said Camp Ripley Fire Chief Pat Boone. “We are taking extra precautions this season and working with our state partners to prevent any potential health risks that may be escalated by the current situations,” said Boone.
All considerations are being taken into account, such as how the smoke is lifting from the fire, to prevent health risks like smoke inhalation for those working the burn, as well as those in the surrounding areas.
These burns are done with fully trained staff members of the Camp Ripley Fire Department, Department of Public Works, Camp Ripley Environmental Department, and with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.