Fort Riley Conservation Projects
Cleanup and restoration sites at Fort Riley include areas impacted by leaks and spills from aboveground storage tanks, Underground Storage Tanks (USTs), and pipelines; solid waste disposal sites; Open Burning/Open Detonation Ground; and facilities that use solvents. Other contaminants of concern include metals; perchlorate; fuel and fuel-related byproducts; volatile organic compounds; munitions and explosives of concern; and munitions constituents. These contaminants potentially affect surface water, groundwater and soil.
There are three categories of cleanup activities undertaken at Fort Riley: the Installation Restoration Program (IRP); the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP); and the Compliance Restoration (CR) program. Fort Riley performs appropriate, cost-effective cleanup of prior contamination to ensure the property is both safe for installation use and protective of human health and the environment. Fifteen sites are being cleaned up by Fort Riley in partnership with the EPA and the KDHE in accordance with the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) that mandates federal agencies to restore beneficial use to the previously contaminated property for which they are responsible.
Cleanup activities that are employed are bio-remediation to enhance natural breakdown of contaminants by bacteria; land-farming whereby contaminated soil is dug up and spread out on the surface using sunlight and naturally-occurring bacteria to breakdown the contaminants; and injection of compounds to oxidize (chemically change) the contaminants into non-hazardous substances. An extensive groundwater monitoring program is on-going that employs more than 130 groundwater monitoring wells.
The contaminants of concern at seven of 15 sites are Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants in the groundwater and soil. Most of the contamination resulted from old underground leaking fuel tanks. All those tanks have been removed.
Cleanup of munitions and explosives of concern and munitions components is ongoing at 2 sites (Sherman Heights Small Arms Range Impact Slope and Camp Forsyth Landfill Area 2 Military Response Site) under the MMRP. The Sherman Heights area was used as a small arms range from the 1880s to the 1980s. An approximately 5-acre area of lead-contaminated soil has been fenced from public access. The Camp Forsyth site is located along the southwestern boundary of Fort Riley, and encompasses approximately 30 acres of sandbar and riverbed in and along the Republican River. The contaminants of concern are munitions and explosives of concern and munitions constituents.
There are six other sites that include two former landfills, the former Dry Cleaning Facility, a WWI Incinerator, R16 Open Burning/Open Detonation and a site co-located with the Public Works Compound contaminated by solvents. Groundwater contamination is the primary concern.
Agricultural Outlease Program
Agricultural outleasing is an effective method to reduce maintenance costs, improve safety for troops, provide natural resources management funding and support positive community relations. Fort Riley’s agricultural outleasing program is a significant part of a sustainble natural resources management strategy.
Over 16,000 acres of deciduous forests/woodland exist on Fort Riley. Much of it is associated with the streams, creeks and rivers of the installation, though some of it grows on hillsides as well. The Fort Riley forestry program is focused on enhanced long term environmental quality of the existing forest. Forests are used for military training as well as recreation, environmental stability, commercial income for the Army and support of those seeking to cut and use firewood/fuelwood. Historically, program activities include Timber Stand Improvement (removing diseased, poorly formed and hazardous trees), pest outbreak surveys, reclamation plantings of soil borrow sites, reforestation plantings, harvest of mature and over-mature trees, hedgerow rejuvenation harvests, evaluation for wildlife habitat and fuelwood sales to the public.
The Fort Riley Fuelwood Program is a popular way for people to acquire wood to burn for personal use. Additional information on the Fuelwood Program and the purchase of permits can be obtained through the Fort Riley iSportsman website.
Both naturally occurring and planted trees grow on the improved grounds of Fort Riley. Some of the tree plantings are associated with the historically intended appearance of the Main Post. Fort Riley urban forest provides benefits to the facilities and inhabitants using the grounds areas. Some of those include shade from the heat of summer sun, reduction in energy costs for buildings due to summer heat gain, improved aesthetics of our facilities, rainfall interception and improved surface water infiltration into soils.
Important concerns for the urban forest:
1. As trees age or incur injury, they can deteriorate and must be managed to reduce potential risk to people and property. Trees can sometimes be pruned to remove hazards but at times must be removed due to structural decay. Fort Riley has a program to survey for hazard trees and to determine best management to reduce or eliminate hazards from trees within the urban forest. Replanting of trees may occur when funding is sufficient and tree cover for certain locations is deemed important.
2. A coming threat to at least certain species of trees on Fort Riley is the emerald ash borer (EAB). EAB is a metallic colored insect of Asian origin that is killing all species of ash trees in over 30 states within the U.S. EAB attacks in large numbers and destroys the tissue below the bark of the tree. Currently, EAB is in the northeastern portion of Kansas, as close as Topeka (Shawnee County). Under natural movement, the insect may reach Fort Riley in the next few years. However, if infested ash wood is moved into the Fort Riley area, it will put immediate pressure on Fort Riley trees. In preparation for EAB’s arrival, Fort Riley will remove poor to fair condition ash trees in the cantonment areas. Reducing the population of ash now will reduce the spike in costs to remove them all at the same time once EAB arrives. Fort Riley has around 1100 ash trees on improved grounds areas (September 2018).
PLEASE, do not move firewood. Burn it where you find it or buy it.
Additional information on Fort Riley forests and urban forest can be obtained by contacting the Conservation Branch, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks.
Fort Riley is committed to IPM as the best approach to control pests, reduce pesticide resistance, and meet mandates for federal agencies to reduce human health and environmental risks from pesticides. Sustainable strategies and techniques are continuously incorporated in all aspects of Fort Riley’s integrated pest management planning and operations
Fort Riley’s goal is to protect human health, property, and natural resources from adverse impacts of weeds, insects, vertebrates and other pests. This goal focuses our efforts to sustain training lands, ranges, and facilities that support readiness with minimum impacts to the environment.
IPM at Fort Riley is coordinated effort of the Directorate of Public Works sections, Public Health Command, Corvias Military Housing, building tenants, USDA – Wildlife Services, and other stakeholders.It is important to note that ALL individuals play a role in effective IPM
The Directorate of Public Works - Municipal Services Branch provides oversite of the two primary pest control services contracts.They are also responsible for executing the grounds applications portion of the noxious weed control program and performing specialty pest control as needed including wildlife damage control through USDA-Wildlife Services.
Public Health Command is responsible for surveying the installation for disease vectors, primarily mosquitos and ticks.They are also responsible for recommending treatments when the vectors reach thresholds that could be a concern to human health.
Corvias Military Housing is responsible for all pest management activities within their footprint.
Additional information regarding pest management activities at Fort Riley may be obtained from the Directorate of Public Works – Environmental Division at 239-2006.To report a pest issues within Corvias Military Housing, contact your local Neighbor Center.To report a pest issue in all other Government facilities, call a service order in to 239-0900.
Hunting and Fishing
Fort Riley is a well-known destination for soldiers and civilians that like to hunt, fish and enjoy nature’s bounty. The installation has twenty-nine managed fishery impoundments to go along with hunting opportunities that exist on over 71,000 acres of timber and prairie. Even if hunting or fishing is not your passion, there are many other opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in the area. The scenic Flint Hills found on Fort Riley offer the mountain biker a stiff challenge and horseback rider with some excellent vistas of the Flint Hills.
Fishing opportunities on Fort Riley are plentiful and the installation just happens to be located between the two largest lakes in Kansas. More than 5 tons of channel catfish stockings occur annually for Fort Riley this year along with the bass, bluegill and sunfish that have already been stocked. This is in addition to the abundant opportunities on over 145 miles of streams and rivers that are open to fishing on Fort Riley. The Kansas and Republican Rivers along with Wildcat Creek have excellent stream fishing potential. Channel catfish and flathead catfish are common in the Kansas and Republican River. There is also a potential for walleye, white bass, smallmouth bass and wipers that are released from Milford Reservoir. Wildcat Creek is a smaller stream, but no less inviting, where spotted bass can be caught by conventional rod and reel as well as a fly rod.
Quite possibly the best trout fishing opportunity in Kansas occurs right here on Fort Riley at Moon Lake and Cameron Springs.With more than 12,000 trout stocked annually, Fort Riley receives the highest stocking rate of any location in the state of Kansas.The best part is that fishing for those does not require an additional Fort Riley Fishing permit, which is common requirement at most Army installations.
If you like to hunt, there are exciting opportunities year around on Fort Riley. Spring Turkey and morel mushroom hunting are favorite quarries during the early part of the year. Turkeys are plentiful on Fort Riley, including both the Rio Grande and Eastern sub-species of turkeys. Morel mushrooms can be found just about anywhere but are most common in wooded and shrubby areas.
Later in the year, most of the significant hunting seasons begin to take place. However, one of the most unique hunting opportunities on post requires a little forethought early this summer. Fort Riley has the only free-ranging herd of elk in the state of Kansas. A limited number of permits are issued each year by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.Applications for those tags generally become available in mid June
Deer hunting on Fort Riley and the vicinity is a tremendous opportunity to experience world class white-tailed deer hunting.Recent years have seen the popularity of deer hunting far surpass any other form of hunting on Fort Riley. Despite increased demand, the Quality Deer Management initiatives employed by the Environmental Division have further increased the overall quality of the herd, along with your chances of harvesting a true trophy buck.
Upland game hunters have a variety of choices including one very unique species - the greater prairie chicken. Although this prairie grouse have declined throughout their range, the Fort Riley population has remained fairly stable and has actually increased the last two years. The other two other species of upland game birds found on Fort Riley are probably a better-known quarry to most hunters. Ring-necked pheasant and bobwhite quail can be found in good numbers on post. Rabbits and squirrels can be found in abundance on Fort Riley and both have a long season for hunting.
While hunting and fishing are the most popular outdoor pastimes on Fort Riley, there are many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors on Fort Riley without a firearm or fishing pole. Warm spring weather brings morel mushroom hunting, and I’ve heard that Fort Riley has some of the best hunting spots in the Midwest. Horseback riding, bicycling and hiking are just a few more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. An additional resource that will be new to Fort Riley is the installation of a boat ramp at the headwaters of the Kansas River near the Grant Avenue Bridge. Access to the river has always been very limited, but the new ramp will open up additional opportunities to canoes and kayaks.
All outdoor recreational users must check in and out daily from their activities in the web based Fort Riley iSportsman Program. There you will find all the required information to have a safe and enjoyable experience. All state and Federal hunting and fishing regulations apply, including Fort Riley specific regulations. In addition, hunting game animals on Fort Riley requires possession of all required Kansas Hunting permits and licenses as well as a Fort Riley Hunting Permit.
Most importantly, all of these activities co-exist with the military mission. It is vital that they be accomplished safely and within Fort Riley and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Regulations. Please be sure to fully understand the regulations that are specific to Fort Riley.
Non-Game Endangered Species Management
Fort Riley has prepared and implemented management plans to conserve and protect state and Federally-listed Threatened & Endangered (T&E) species known to occur on the installation, as well as Army Species at Risk, Kansas Species in Need of Conservation, bald eagles, and other rare species. These management plans were prepared with and approved by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. They represent Fort Riley’s obligation to minimize or prevent conflicts between protected species and the military mission.
Federal and State listed T&E Species
The installation lies within the historical range of thirteen federal and state T&E species. Those having recent documentation on or near Fort Riley including the following:
3.The whooping crane is occasionally observed within close proximity of Fort Riley. It remains possible that this species may be encountered within the installation’s boundaries or air space on rare occasion.
Army Species at Risk
The Army Species at Risk listing identifies imperiled species that would have a significant impact on the military mission if Federal protections were enacted. The objective is to proactively conserve these species now to minimize the need for a future listing. Army-designated Species at Risk that occur on Fort Riley are the Henslow’s sparrow, regal fritillary butterfly, rusty blackbird and Texas horned lizard.
Species in Need of Conservation (SINC)
SINC is a Kansas designation given to any nongame species in the state deemed to require conservation measures in an attempt to keep the species from requiring further protection. SINC species do not have the level of statutory protection as those species listed as threatened or endangered in Kansas. Species on the SINC list that have been documented on Fort Riley are the prairie mole cricket, blue sucker, common shiner, Johnny darter, southern redbelly dace, timber rattlesnake, western hognose snake, black rail, black tern, bobolink, ferruginous hawk, golden eagle, Henslow’s sparrow, short-eared owl, whip-poor-will, and southern bog lemming.
Wildland Fire Management
Fort Riley’s Wildland Fire Management program plays an important role in the maintenance and long-term sustainability of the installation’s training areas.
Prescribed fire and wildfire mitigation occur almost year around either in direct support of the Army’s training needs or in accomplishment of specific natural resource management objectives.
Annual planning begins in mid-summer when priority areas for burning are identified. Peak burning season has recently shifted more toward late summer and early fall to have a longer period of reduced flammable fuel (vs spring) and to combat invasive woody plants and noxious weeds. Prescribed fire is also utilized to clear areas for pre-construction, blackening of known firing points and to aid in the accomplishment of archeological and UXO surveys.
Properly timing is often the most critical element in achieving the desired outcome. This is confounded by weather, fuel conditions and availability of each training area. In addition, smoke management has become critical element to minimize air quality concerns with our neighbors.
The first and foremost concern on Fort Riley is troop safety. Military training activities can and do start wildfires. If sufficient fuel exists, those wildfires can endanger troops and equipment. Prescribed burning removes excess fuel that effectively decreases the frequency and intensity of wildfires. The highest priority burns are those that produce a break in the fuel at strategic locations to minimize overall acreage that could burn at any one time.
Fort Riley’s Wildland Fire Management Program is compliant with the standards of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).The NWCG was established in 1976 to provide national leadership to enable interoperable wildland fire operations among Federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners.
Interpretation of Historic Preservation Laws and Regulations
CRM Program staff are subject matter experts in historic preservation law and must meet the Secretary of Interior’s minimum professional qualifications. As Post Archeologist and Historic Architect, their expertise in preservation law, diverse cultural resources and cultural resource management enable them to interpret what laws and regulations apply to specific federal undertakings. They are then able to provide guidance to planners, designers, project managers and facility managers as they work towards furthering the Army mission. Compliance with such laws as the National Historic Preservation Act and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act are among several that apply to Fort Riley. The requirement to comply with preservation laws provide the foundation for Chapter 6 of Army Regulation 200-1 on Cultural Resources.
The CRM Program also has several legally binding agreements with outside agencies that address either a streamlined process for carrying out specific aspects of compliance or a specific way to address a process that has not been laid out through federal mandate. These include:
- Programmatic agreements with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and private companies to protect historic properties under private management (family housing and Army lodging),
- Programmatic agreement with the SHPO and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to address the review of impacts from maintenance and operations activities, and
- Comprehensive agreements with tribes to address the handling of Native American graves and associated artifacts.
NOTE: A law important to public awareness is the Archeological Resource Protection Act, which specifies penalties for looting or damaging archaeological sites on federal property. Protecting cultural resources and archeological sites on Fort Riley is everyone’s responsibility. Here are some ways you can help:
- Call before Digging! Digging, excavating, or any other ground disturbance must be coordinated with Kansas One-Call and the Department of Public Works Environmental Division. Not only does Kansas One-Call ensure you will not encounter active utilities, the CRM Program staff will make sure you do not impact subsurface cultural resources.
- NEVER disturb or remove artifacts from their location. You will be in violation of federal law and subject to fines and/or jail time. Please note that anything 50 years or older may be an artifact and this law does not just apply to arrowheads and other Native American artifacts.
- If you find an artifact or encounter what may be an archeological site, please call the CRM staff to report the location of the cultural resource, at (785)-239-3110. CRM staff can then determine if further investigation is required.
Identification of Cultural Resources
The CRM Program acts as the leader in stewardship of Fort Riley’s tangible past, to remnants of occupation by Native American peoples and homesteaders, along with the military use and expansion of the Fort that started during the Frontier Era. These remnants include archeological sites, historic architecture (buildings, structures, objects and landscapes) and artifacts. In order to manage the resources, the CRM Program must first identify them on the installation.
The architectural resources are relatively easy to find and most are tracked through the Fort Riley Real Property Inventory, having been assigned a facility number, and appear on current or historic maps. However, there are historic properties associated with non-military construction that continue to be discovered/rediscovered and “identified,” such as concealed or long forgotten limestone drainages and culverts. Locating these resources is considered the Phase I Survey. This is followed by Phase II Evaluation, whereby they are assessed for historic significance through research and documentation of the resources, to see if they meet one of the National Register of Historic Places criteria of eligibility and also retain enough integrity.
Archeological sites require a bit more planning and strategy to identify. In Kansas, there are three phases involved with the complete identification process of archeological sites. In some states, the first two are combined.
- Phase I involves the background research, in which archeologists look at what documentation might be helpful before going out into the field and then drawing up a strategy or methodology for conducting fieldwork.
- Phase II consists of the actual archeological survey or fieldwork. Archeologists may conduct “walk-over” surveys, in which a crew is spaced out to walk over an area of land in a grid, scanning the ground for artifacts or features that might be part of an archeological site. At Fort Riley, these are best conducted after a controlled burn has removed the vegetation and revealed the actual bare ground. Another useful survey involves shovel tests, in which archeologists dig down below the surface at predetermined intervals along that grid. This is useful in areas in which they have determined that previous flooding may have deposited a layer of silt over archeological resources or in which vegetation conceals the surface and a prescribed burn is not possible in advance of the survey.
- Phase III includes testing of archeological sites, to see if they are eligible to be listed on the National Register. At this stage, archeologists propose how they are going to accomplish the field work, they complete the fieldwork and then analyze all the date they have collected thus far, producing a report on their findings. The fieldwork in this phase is limited to getting enough information through excavation of the site to make inform whether the site is historically important and can provide more information at a later date. (Completely excavating a site only occurs when Fort Riley anticipates it may get destroyed.)
Management of Cultural Resources
The CRM Program staff work closely with Fort Riley planners, architects, engineers, project managers, facility and land managers, unit commanders and project proponents to support the Army mission, while making every effort to consider historic properties that may be impacted by activities. Impacts might be the result of construction work or training activities, in which coordination with the CRM Program as early as possible is the best form method of prevention. However, they might also occur from natural erosion, neglect or vandalism/looting. In the latter cases, monitoring by CRM staff and installing protection measures work well.
The Fort Riley Post Archeologist reviews all projects that will have ground disturbance and researches the area to see if the proposed work might impact an archeological site. If so, then discussions begin towards working out how best to avoid or minimize those impacts. This might mean moving the project to a different location, not digging as deep or as large an area. If an adverse effect cannot be avoided, which is very rare at Fort Riley, a process is followed to resolve those effects in consultation with the SHPO. Fortunately, surveys and evaluations not only identify cultural resources, they also allow for land to be “cleared” for use, when no archeological sites are found or those that are found have been determined to not be eligible for the National Register.
In the case of historic buildings and structures, management is quite a bit more complex. In order to preserve a building, for example, continued use and occupation is very important. When a building is occupied, problems such as leaks are more quickly reported and repaired. Money for improvements is also more readily justified and obtained for buildings that are useful to the mission. This also means that buildings must be flexible to allow for changes in function or upgrades to support mission needs. Building codes continue to change as does the need to support new technology. Oftentimes, these needed changes have an impact on the preservation of the building’s historic appearance. Fort Riley must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Therefore, the Fort Riley Historic Architect works with design teams to consider historic preservation in finding appropriate design solution.
The CRM Program also manages a large collection of prehistoric and historic artifacts in its Curation Facility. The facility is temperature and humidity controlled, with a monitored security system to protect the artifacts, archived maps, drawings, reports, etc. The Curation Facility Manager monitors the condition of the artifacts, conducts regular inventories of the full collection and coordinates loans of the artifacts to local museums and historic sites (Cavalry Museum and Fort Larned). The collection houses artifacts collected from surveys, evaluations and intensive excavations.
Consultation with Outside Agencies
Fort Riley must consult with the Kansas State Historic Preservation Officer, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), federally-recognized Native American tribes/nations with interest in archeological resources at Fort Riley and National Park Service. The Cultural Resources Program staff have been delegated as liaisons to regulating agencies for a range of matters. The CRM staff have prioritized the relationships with these agencies to foster cooperation, improve consultation and increase efficiency in coordinating required reviews.
Federally-recognized tribes and nations are considered sovereign nations that exist within the confines of the United States of America. As such, formal interactions and the signing of agreements between tribes and Fort Riley occur as a government-to-government communication. Typically, these interactions then lead to daily business communications occurring between CRM program staff and each tribe’s designated Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. By making every attempt to follow consultation best practices with every interaction, the CRM Program demonstrates core Army values to outside parties.
In determining historic significance of a cultural resource, CRM Program staff consult with their counterparts at the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) who have been designated to conduct federal reviews by the SHPO (aka KSHS Executive Director). An opportunity to review and comment must also be granted to the 12 federally-recognized tribes/nations with which Fort Riley consults. When Fort Riley seeks to nominate a historic property to the National Register or amend an existing National Register listing, review and approval is coordinated with the Keeper of the National Register at the National Park Service. In assessing impacts to historic properties, CRM Program staff consult with federal SHPO reviewers, tribes/nations and, rarely, the ACHP. In cases where human remains or funerary objects are found, tribes are contacted and a process initiated to determine the need and method of repatriating those items.