The 2008 Joint Meeting of the Society for Range Management and the America Forage and Grassland Council.

Monday, January 28, 2008 - 4:20 PM

Combating Erosion on Military Lands: Restoration of Drastically Disturbed Rangelands

William E. Fox III1, Dennis W. Hoffman2, M. Scott Keating1, and Joaquin Sanabria2. (1) Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M University, 1500 Research Parkway, Suite 240, 2118 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2118, (2) Blackland Research & Extension Center, Texas A&M University, 770 East Blackland Road, Temple, TX 76502

The Department of Defense manages some 25 million acres across the United States.  Much of this land is utilized for combat training and is subject to extreme conditions of disturbance.  Fort Hood, the U.S. Army’s premier armor training facility, is no stranger to training exercises including combat maneuvers by both tracked and wheeled military vehicles.  Situated on the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country, Fort Hood is home to two armored divisions, the 1st Cavalry and 4th Infantry. 

Approximately 70,000 acres of the 250,000 acre installation is within the “West Range” training area.  These grass and shrub dominated systems provide the bulk of maneuver areas utilized.  Over 60 years of mechanized training has had significant impacts on these systems; compacted soils, accelerated erosion and loss of desirable vegetation has increased concerns regarding sediment deposition into nearby Lake Belton, a drinking water source for approximately 250,000 central Texans.  The Range Revegetation Pilot Project has spent the last four years evaluating the potential for using composted dairy manure as a soil amendment to increase vegetation cover and reduce the time necessary for restoration of training lands.  Efforts focus on optimization of compost rates and subsequent vegetation response as well as comparison of compost applications to utilization of commercial fertilizers.  Current results indicate compost, at rates equivalent to 15 yd3/ac and above, has the potential to stimulate increased vegetation of perennial grasses and significantly decrease bareground in comparison to no treatment or commercial fertilizer treatments.  Compost benefits extend longer than commercial fertilizer and to date have not produced water quality concerns.  Studies continue in the development of compost applications as a best management practice for restoration of drastically disturbed rangeland systems.