Idaho Army National Guard Helps Clean Up Former Training Sites | Environment
For the majority of the 20th century, the National Guard has been conducting live-fire training and weapon systems test on multiple locations across Idaho. Most of them are no longer in use.
One location, a 600-acre plot of forest northeast of Spirit Lake, hasn't been in use since 2001. The National Guard began small squad maneuver and tactic training in at the location in 1996.
"We try to concentrate our training down in Boise. It's a one shot stop for everything we do," LtCol. Kyle Carpenter said.
It was state land prior, during and after National Guard occupation. Idaho National Guard is now working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to certify these former training sites so they no longer pose an environmental hazard with left over ammunition debris, military rations and other guard-related objects.
Weston Solutions, an international contractor for environmental, property and construction, is working with the Idaho National Guard to survey the defined areas with metal detectors and soil samples.
Already a handful of objects have been found. Weston Solutions field safety officer, Jacob Goodin, laid out a handful of shell casings. All of them were non-military.
"We found shotgun shells, 20 and 12 gauge rifle rounds and pistol rounds. It's just the locals coming up here and target practicing," Goodin said. He continued, "A couple of days ago over in Garwood, we found this right when we started surveying."
He placed a discharged shell on the truck bed. John Bridenbaugh, Weston Solutions field team leader, added: "It's a 5.56 NATO blank. That's what the National Guard would have been shooting out here."
LtCol. Carpenter and Col. Tim Marsano, public affairs officer, drove all the way from Boise just to observe the survey process for the morning.
"If they find enough objects they'll move forward to a remedial investigation. They'll do a more extensive survey," Carpenter said. He continued, "We have a site near Burley, Idaho that is currently in the remedial stage. They found a lot of evidence of target firing and practice grenades."
The Weston Solutions contractors finished their survey Friday afternoon. They reported no sign of Army National Guard activity. Soil samples taken at the site were shipped to a Denver laboratory where results will take three to seven weeks. Bridenbaugh's team will now head to the Lewiston site to complete the same survey there.
There are seven sites located in North Idaho. Marsano lists them as Athol, Bonners Ferry, Garwood, Grangeville, White Bird, Lewiston and Spirit Lake. An eighth site is located in southern Idaho, near Buhl.
At the end of the year, the Idaho National Guard will bring in the DEQ and other state departments to discuss the next step for the Spirit Lake site.
Photo Gallery: Pictures of the survey team taken Friday morning.