While Earth Day emphasis concludes at the end of April, Camp Blanding remains committed throughout the year to ensure an effective environmental program.
One of the key elements of the successful program is Camp Blanding Joint Training Center’s range control.
While the environmental section itself receives special highlights for their award-winning program at Camp Blanding, Jerry Kerce, environmental specialist, states special recognition also goes to range control.
“These soldiers and civilians are the backbone of my program,” states Kerce. “They have provided the lion’s share of support.”
The work of range control ensures training and range areas are operated in a safe, professional manner, which includes effective environmental controls. Range control works closely with the environmental section and actively oversees all organizations using the approximately 72,000 acres at Camp Blanding.
One of the key award-winning projects conducted by the environmental section and range control involves safe procedures for pesticide fogging.
Camp Blanding provides an unparalleled opportunity to perform aerial tests in a highly-controlled and repeatable environment to collect data that could result in a substantial leap forward in reducing disease risk for U.S. deployed military personnel and civilian populations.
Recent testing was expanded to include equipment that would automatically spray ground protective barriers such as HESCO blocks at pre-selected intervals when insects were the most active. “This innovative protocol will eliminate human error, while minimizing safety concerns,” explained Kerce.
Additionally, the training center has also joined forces with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to test treatment practices for HESCO blocks and plywood panels using novel combinations of spraying equipment and pesticides to determine ideal efficacy in an urban environment.
Environmental conservation has long been a strong tradition of this 73,000-acre military training post located in northeast Florida. The installation boasts a wealth of diverse and rare wildlife, so all prospective projects are reviewed for compatibility with environmental goals.
The staff is diligent in screening pesticides to ensure they pose no risk to fragile species or soldiers. “We take this very seriously,” added Kerce, “and have taken voluntary regulatory steps to ensure human and environmental health and safety, including maintaining state permits for dispensing aerial pesticides and ensuring the highest standards or watershed preservation.”
By conducting tests on the kinds of construction materials in the field under realistic, natural conditions, Camp Blanding and its partners are vastly changing the landscape for simplifying pest management practices.
Several projects also have potential for widespread implementation, such as testing novel treatment methodologies for controlling or eliminating bed bugs in military billeting and buildings.
“Our environmental staff is relentless in pursuing studies with the potential for meaningful, quality-of-life improvements for America’s deployed service members,” states Kerce. “The global impact for preventing disease and human suffering in both rural and urban centers is enormous.”
Camp Blanding’s Range Control primary staff includes (no particular order and in Associated Press style):
Maj. Eric Leirvik; Capt. Robert Carter; Master Sgt. Scott Peck; Sgt. Chris Cash; Chief Warrant Officer Four Robert Starnes; Sgt. First Class Alan Hunter; Sgt. First Class Michael Bates; Master Sgt. (retired) William DeLance; Sgt. First Class Jorge Acevedo; Staff Sgt. Greg Stinson; Staff Sgt. Kristopher Ballard; Ms. Michele Thurman; Ms. Andree Murray; Sgt. Matthew Hall; Sgt. Henry Bogue; Sgt. Jullian Hayes; Sgt. Justin DeLance