Minnesota’s  Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District  (SWCD) is using federal and state programming and a partnership with the military to secure easements and establish and maintain buffers. The effort aims to protect and improve water quality and wildlife habitat around the National Guard’s Camp Ripley.

“We know if we can protect 75 percent of a watershed, our water quality is going to stay in good condition,” District Manager Shannon Wettsein said. “That’s a goal for the district, but for the military, the habitat fragmentation and wildlife entering the camp was the concern.”

Located near the Nokasippi Wildlife Management Area, Camp Ripley operates 24 hours a day, training about 30,000 military personnel and civilians each year, including firefighters, emergency responders, law enforcement officers and snowplow operators.

Development migrated toward the camp, affecting the National Guard’s ability to conduct its training. The state of Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources reworked the state’s Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program, and the legislature modified it to work within the military’s Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program.

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