Located on 53,000 acres of forest and grassland in Central Minnesota, Camp Ripley is more than just the primary training facility for the Minnesota National Guard. With over 125 different bird species, 600 plant species, and a thriving deer population, Camp Ripley is also an important nature reserve. The National Guard has won numerous awards for its environmental preservation at Camp Ripley, including a new environmental award. To celebrate this award and highlight its most important initiatives, Camp Ripley held an Earth Day celebration on Friday.
Though Camp Ripley is primarily a training facility for Minnesota’s National Guard, environmental preservation has been a complementary function for decades. Camp Ripley incorporates their environmental mission into military training exercises; for example, exercises that track deer populations, locate tracked animals, and identify land in need of rehabilitation allow trainees to develop essential skills while promoting effective land preservation. Camp Ripley selectively harvests timber both to create space for military vehicle maneuvers and to maintain a healthy ecosystem. These trees then go on to provide a source of wood fiber for alternative fuel research.
Camp Ripley’s efforts do not just help the environment; they also benefit the surrounding community and the state as a whole. Three times per year, soldiers, veterans, and youth are invited to Camp Ripley to hunt, which has the twofold benefit of controlling wildlife populations and providing access to outdoor activities to young Minnesotans and our nation’s heroes. Camp Ripley also serves area students with the camp acting as an environmental classroom for local schools. For the past three years, students from local schools have learned about environmental protection and management at Camp Ripley. These activities expose the students to surroundings and experiences that cannot be simulated in a traditional classroom setting.
Camp Ripley’s exceptional environmental leadership will be recognized in May when the camp receives a national environmental award in Atlanta, Georgia. This award is just the latest in a series of awards recognizing Camp Ripley’s extraordinary commitment to preserving our natural resources.
Environmental protection and conservation can be part of any land management program, and Camp Ripley’s land management initiative is a model for adapting environmentally friendly policies on a large scale. Camp Ripley and the Minnesota National Guard make our natural resources a priority not just on Earth Day, but year round.
For more information on Camp Ripley’s Earth Day events, click here.