Maintenance and Restoration of Military Lands – Fort Hood
Lake Belton provides drinking water to approximately a quarter million Central Texans. Sixty plus years of heavy land use by both track and wheel vehicles for training exercises on Fort Hood has accelerated soil erosion processes potentially impacting downstream water resources such as Lake Belton. To alleviate the environmental impacts of military training and help restore training areas, Blackland scientists, in collaboration with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Department of Defense Integrated Training Area Management Program (ITAM), began monitoring water quality and evaluating the effectiveness of implementing conservation practices across many of Fort Hood’s watersheds. Monitoring of these watersheds by the Blackland Water Science Laboratory showed a reduction of nutrient runoff and erosion as a result of conservation practices such as gully plugs, sediment retention ponds, and contour ripping.
- Increase in soil nutrients and vegetation cover
- Stabilization of soils through the introduction of organic matter (composted dairy manure)
- Provide U.S. Army suggested operating procedures to help balance environmental and training needs
- Range Revegetation Pilot Project for Fort Hood
- In 2003, the Range Revegetation Pilot Project was initiated with federal funding through NRCS and the Texas Water Resources Institute to import manure from diaries within the Bosque River Watershed to Fort Hood to increase nutrient availability in soils
- Fort Hood Training Lands Restoration and Maintenance Project
- In 2007, the Fort Hood Training Lands Restoration and Maintenance Project began implementing various conservation practices to more than 67,000 acres of training lands to address erosion and ultimately impede the flow of sediment into Lake Belton.
Water quality monitoring stations indicated that nutrient movement from all training areas receiving composted dairy manure coupled with additional conservation practices such as gully plugs, contour ripping, sedimentation ponds, maneuver access structures, and reseeding showed reduction in runoff and erosion subsequently increasing soil nutrients. Nutrient levels in the water did not exceed Environmental Protection Agency contaminant levels. Areas with dairy manure compost and seeding treatments indicated an increase in vegetation.
During training exercises, vegetation is significantly disturbed consequently reducing the ground cover required to reduce water runoff and soil loss. Current results indicate compost has the potential to stimulate increased vegetation of perennial grasses in comparison to no treatment or commercial fertilizer treatments. Compost benefits extend longer than commercial fertilizer and have not produced water quality concerns. The composted dairy manure was taken from the Bosque River watershed which also helps relieve the watershed of excess phosphorous found in compost.