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SPECIAL EDITION

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF

ENGINEERS

FREE 2015 EDITION

Building Resilience PREPARE 10 years after Katrina, Corps mega-models the next big storm

ABSORB Overseas projects combat disasters and disease

RECOVER Sea studies advance efforts to protect coastal communities

ADAPT Water, hydropower tame floods, create energy


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CONTENTS

SPECIAL EDITION

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS

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YEAR IN REVIEW A view of the overlook in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force addition, a 2014 project

U.S. AIR FORCE

UP FRONT

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POWER GENERATORS Fort Peck Dam, Montana

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Q&A Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick PROFILE Beth Fleming, director, Environmental Laboratory

STEPHEN SATKOWSKI

FEATURES

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BUILDING RESILIENCE A decade after Katrina, USACE is super-modeling the next big storm

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OVERSEAS ASSISTANCE The Corps helps mitigate humanitarian crises and natural disasters around the world

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MEET THE DIVISIONS Get to know the Corps’ offices around the world


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CONTENTS

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DEPARTMENTS

ANNIVERSARY

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This is a product of

HURRICANE KATRINA 10 years later, much has been done and recovery continues

ENVIRONMENT

DIRECTOR

Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com MANAGING EDITOR

Michelle Washington mjwashington@usatoday.com CREATIVE MEDIA MANAGER

Christine Neff cneff@usatoday.com

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STORM RESEARCH FACILITY Studying the seas in an effort to protect coastal communities

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WATER POWER Encouraging private development while rehabbing aging hydropower infrastructure

PRESERVATION

MATT HARRINGTON

USACE

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EDITORS

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CAREERS

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Nikki Dobrin Chris Garsson Elizabeth Neus Lori Santos Amanda Shifflett DESIGNERS

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Karen Loehr Marlece Lusk Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka

NATIVE AMERICANS Making past wrongs right for American Indians

STEM AND WOMEN How to make it in the Corps STEM OUTREACH USACE encourages future engineers FINE OPPORTUNITIES A look at some of the Corps’ coolest jobs

RECREATION

INTERNS

Alexa Rogers Hannah Van Sickle

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Matt Alderton, Mary Helen Berg, Hollie Deese, Stacey Freed, Adam Hadhazy, Matt Harrington, Lambeth Hochwald, Diana Lambdin Meyer, Peggy J. Noonan, Katherine Reynolds Lewis , Eric Schechter

GREAT GETAWAYS Six recreation sites worth a summer visit

BACK PAGE

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CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Matt Harrington

USACE GADGETS The Corps has some amazing items in its toolbox

ADVERTISING VP, ADVERTISING

Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Justine Goodwin | (703) 854-5444 jgoodwin@usatoday.com ISSN#0734-7456 A USA TODAY publication, Gannett Co. Inc. USA TODAY, its logo and associated graphics are the trademarks of Gannett Co. Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Copyright 2015, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. Editorial and publication headquarters are at 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108, and at 703-854-3400. For accuracy questions, call or send an e-mail to accuracy@usatoday.com.

ON THE COVER The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to combat and prepare for crises at home and abroad.

PRINTED IN THE USA HARRY WEDDINGTON/USACE

PHOTOS: USACE; GETTY IMAGES


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POWER GENERATION

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HE FORT PECK DAM in eastern Montana is one of the largest earth-filled dams in the world and was the first built in the upper Missouri River basin in the 1930s. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was directed to construct Fort Peck with President Roosevelt’s authorization in 1933 and it was showcased on the very first cover of LIFE magazine in 1936. At 21,026 feet long and more than 250 feet high, the dam and Fort Peck Lake generate hydroelectric power, and help control flooding and water quality. The two powerhouses (above) can generate up to 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of power in an average year.

HARRY WEDDINGTON/USACE


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THE YEAR IN REVIEW

J WELL BSDONE

A sampling of projects undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2014 By Alexa Rogers

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THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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$35.4 MILLION

awarded by the Louisville District to expand the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at WrightPatterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

90 POUNDS of plastic, aluminum cans, glass bottles, cardboard boxes and cigarette butts were sorted after being removed from the Los Angeles River with the help of USACE volunteers.

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15 MILES of the Erie Canal and Tonawanda Creek in Tonawanda, N.Y., were treated with herbicide to kill beds of hydrilla plant, a threatening species that alters water oxygen levels and disrupts recreation.

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520 CONCRETE SLABS were

replaced on the main runway at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.

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9,257 POUNDS

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745,000SQUARE- FOOT

of air potatoes, an invasive plant with vining stems and potatolike tubers were removed from nine sites in Jacksonville.

Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning, Ga., doubles the size of its predecessor.

7 TONS of bones from a 38-foot-long T. rex specimen traveled 2,086 miles from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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U.S. AIR FORCE (1); USACE (2-7)


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… It’s an understanding that the system is not going to be so rigid, that it’s going to give a little bit, you know where it’s going to give, then you’ve got to come back stronger.

USACE

FROM THE TOP Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick looks forward — and back By Mary Helen Berg

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ campaign strategy through 2019 includes goals to reduce disaster risk and “prepare for tomorrow.” As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, 53rd U.S. Army chief of engineers, spoke about the agency’s efforts to build resilience in order to better anticipate and respond to emergencies and changing needs at home and abroad.

Q

You have said we need a more precise definition of what we mean by “resilience.” What is the definition? BOSTICK: We talk about it in four general principles. They align with what came out of the President’s Executive

Order (13653: Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change). … So the first one is: prepare. How do you prepare or plan? The second one is then you have to absorb the impact of whatever harsh weather system is coming and then you’d recover; and then you would adapt. … So: prepare, absorb, recover and adapt

In August we will mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. How has the Corps changed in its approach to disaster relief since then? Typically, the initial fight is at the local level. So, at the local level, governors and mayors are responsible and in charge and the federal government is in support. What I saw in (2012’s Hurricane) Isaac and in (Superstorm) Sandy (the general was serving in Iraq serving during Katrina), the difference in these latter two disasters is the federal government pre-positioned forward. It didn’t wait for the governors to ask for help, for the mayors to ask for help. We were pre-positioned, ready to execute. There’s always cost in moving things forward, not that we were not worried about cost, but that was secondary to having equipment like generators and pumps and everything that we needed. We pushed forward in these intermediate staging bases, ready to go as soon as it was necessary, and then we made recommendations on how things could be utilized. … So, that was one change — this whole mindset of pre-positioning and becoming part of the solution because sometimes (governors and mayors) don’t know what to ask or they ask too late. Part 2 goes back to “prepare” and how do you prepare and design and build these structures. If you took a look at the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System design, some of the structures are three times as strong and high and deep, and we have armoring over levees that make them extremely more resistant to over-topping. So, one of the things we did after Katrina was, instead of looking at one or two storms and planning against those types of storms, we looked at 150 different types of storms and did deep, deep modeling on how those storms could impact that coastline. And then we designed. Within the past year, the Corps released both a Climate Change Adaptation Plan and a comprehensive study of 31,000 miles of the North Atlantic coast that look at how to address the impacts of climate change and help communities adapt to increasing risk. Can you talk more about efforts to build resilience in light of climate change? We’re engaging in external collaboration, and we’re improving our understanding to the impacts of climate change, and then we’re developing policy guidance that we are using out in the field. (The Sea Level Change Calculator), for example … allows us to look at sea-level rise at all of our projects. … So, we’ve been out to about 1,400 projects and about a third of them are classified as vulnerable to climate or

sea-level change. So now we are looking at those projects and looking at how we adapt to that. I think awareness of the vulnerability is something that we’ve learned that we have got to continue to push, because there’s a lot of surprise after these disasters and that shouldn’t be the case. People are going to be upset, they’re going to be frustrated at what the storm has done, but we ought to be able to give some level of understanding of how vulnerable communities are, and that’s really part of what climate adaptation is. This North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS) is a study that we were commissioned to lead that brought together some of the best engineers and scientists and community leaders from across the United States and the globe to really identify regional and national opportunities to increase coastal resilience and reduce vulnerability to the high-risk areas along the 31,000-mile northeast coastline of the U.S. It develops a framework and a methodology that’s going to help stakeholders identify their risk of coastal flooding and then look at a full range of strategies on the way forward. It also includes some technical products like modeling and tools and methods of reporting. It’s kind of a coastal program guide. In my view, it will assist communities to become more resilient, to think about resilience and what it means and what their options are, how they ‘buy down’ risk, improve their vulnerability. Last fall the Corps sent a FEST-A team (Forward Engineers Support Team-Advanced) to Liberia. Can you talk about their role in the fight against Ebola and what the specific challenges are in responding to this type of emergency? Our Europe District sent a 13-member FEST-A team that included engineering and engineering-related expertise to support USAID (United States Agency for International Development) in its mission and to support the 101st Airborne Division in its mission. … They helped with the construction of these Ebola treatment units, and they worked very closely in the planning and surveying and design of life support and logistic facilities at the base camp. They include civil engineers, electrical mechanical (engineers). They work on things like drainage and sewer requirements and building structures. One thing that’s very different in an operation like this is working with the families even more than we would normally do. And of course the medical piece of it is important, to make sure that our soldiers and civilians understand from a medical standpoint what has to be done, and then as they come back, the 21 days that we would hold them until they rejoin their family, understanding why that was important, too, just verify that there was no concern of any outbreak.


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Beth Fleming, below, is the director of the 45-year-old Environmental Laboratory, part of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

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BUILDING ISSUES

USACE

The environmental laboratory of the USACE is still considered rather new — just 45 years old — in an agency that was established before the United States was a nation. What role does your division play in the greater picture of this historic agency? FLEMING: We are the fastest-growing arm in the agency. We have more than 220 engineers, scientists, technicians and support personnel. A key role of the environmental lab is to inform policy and regulatory decision makers. In the absence of information, our legislators and policymakers still have to take action, so we provide the science and technology that help make the best decisions to mitigate damage to the environment.

By Diana Lambdin Meyer

Give us an example of how the science and technology you work with has changed our lives. We’ve been able to develop advanced modeling techniques that allow us to predict more accurately water flow in times of flood, for example, and coastal storms. We can simulate hundreds of storms. As you see these storms coming and changing, whether it be New Orleans or New York, you can use these models to predict what we need to do to mitigate damages. These are simulated computer models, but we have physical models as well. We had done some ecosystem restoration projects in the New York area. After Hurricane Sandy, we were able to evaluate how well those construction projects had performed, and we were pleased that they performed quite well, which is encouraging for us. Some of the damage would have been a lot worse.

VICKSBURG, MISS., IS A long way from Huntington, W.Va., and nearby East Lynn Lake, a popular recreation area. But it’s because of work accomplished by scientists in a laboratory in Vicksburg that, during the summer of 2014, campers, water skiers and fishermen were able to reach a favorite recreation spot with little disruption. Steel pilings on the 40-year-old bridge that serves as the gateway to the lake were corroding and reating a safety risk. Until recently, the only option would have been to demolish the bridge and start from scratch, costing millions and disrupting traffic for years. Instead, using polymer wraps and self-consolidating concrete, engineers repaired the bridge while closing one lane of traffic at a time and had the work done in three weeks. The research that led to the innovative fix was done at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and earned the scientists and engineers there one of four USACE Innovation of the Year awards in 2014. A second award went to those who worked on the project in Huntington. Beth Fleming, director of the Environmental Laboratory for the ERDC since 2006, oversees the research. A native of Louisville, Miss., with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Louisiana State University, Fleming has worked for the Corps for 28 years. She talks about recent innovations and the challenges her team faces.

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was a colossal failure of numerous government agencies. What has been learned and implemented to prevent such disasters in the future? We have an entirely new infrastructure in place based upon cumulative information from all of the other agencies. The Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction System, developed by the USACE, is thousands of miles of new levees. With this, a (14-plus) billion-dollar levee system now in place, I cannot imagine seeing what we saw in Katrina. We have learned so much more about the value of imagining all of the possibilities.

Nature and construction mix at the USACE Environmental Laboratory

We have computer programs that allow us to run up to 500 models showing winds, currents and water levels. You can see the whole thing play out and know where to evacuate and what other actions to take in an emergency. How do the lessons from Katrina impact those living in other parts of the U.S.? Katrina brought a spotlight to the condition of our national infrastructure. This is the big discussion, the big emphasis, what keeps us up at night. Our current infrastructure was designed to last 50 years and we’re long past that. Everyone from the president down is aware of the risk and the problems. There is great concern that we have failures coming at any time. We’ve come up with new ways to monitor the condition of our infrastructure, like acoustic sensors in concrete that alert us to cracks and other physical conditions. We take that information and run it on infrastructure models and that helps us make the most informed decisions and chart a course of action. We have to know the environmental impact of these new materials and techniques, or we must design systems to mitigate damage to the environment with the use of these materials. Other regulatory agencies will shut down projects if there is a threat to endangered or threatened species and that can cost up to $100,000 per day. At the same time, while you’re trying to address these problems, we’ve got commerce moving through these rivers. If there’s a failure, all of that stops, which, too, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. How much is the future of water resources consuming your energies today as compared to 10 years ago? Being a research and development organization, we have to continually think of what is going to be the next problem, what is going to be the next challenge, what are the science and technology capabilities that we need to be creating to answer the next challenge we are going to face with either too much water or not enough? We have developed an interagency water resources strategy ... that pulls together other federal agencies in an effort to leverage all of the information and knowledge available to address these challenges more adequately. As a result, we have made significant advances in the science and understanding of the issues.


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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replenishes a natural beach barrier on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, N.Y., following Superstorm Sandy.

LESSON(S) LEARNED 10 years after Katrina, USACE is super-modeling the next big storm

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HEN IT COMES TO predicting the impact of major storms on its construction projects, the approaches taken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have a pretty clear dividing point: Hurricane Katrina. Before the historic 2005 hurricane, the Corps operated on the theory that a simple overflowing “bathtub” model for coastal flooding — and, in the 1990s, a hydrodynamic circulation model — were

By Erik Schechter enough to account for possible storm damage. But the mighty force of Hurricane Katrina, which caused levees to fail and killed 1,833 people mostly in and around New Orleans, proved the inadequacy of such an approach. “Katrina was a true wake-up call because Katrina brought a surge and a size we had never seen before,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, director of the Corps’ contingency operations and office of homeland security.

As a result, the Corps received more funding to improve its modeling, resulting in a prime example of the new lean-forward approach to disaster: building resilience. Whether the agency is monitoring rising sea levels or other climate events affecting the civil works and waterways it manages, or anticipating, planning and responding to a changing environment at home or abroad, building resilience means to CO N T I N U E D

USACE


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ONGOING ENDEAVORS

POST-HURRICANE EFFORTS: REBUILDING BEACHES

U.S. NAVY

A new study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enables officials to assess the impact of sea-level rise at bases along the Atlantic, including Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, which is at high risk of coastal flooding.

were imported into a “prepare, absorb, recover geographic information and adapt,” according “We look at potensystem to map storm to Lt. Gen. Thomas P. effects and sea-level rise Bostick, the 53rd U.S. tially 1,000 differon the Norfolk base’s Army chief of engineers. ent storms that can infrastructure — its Last year, the Corps electrical system, the completed an unprecoccur, and then we ship berths, etc. — down edented, deep-dive to a square-meter-sized study of future storm and perform statistical box. SERDP told the sea-level-rise impacts on analyses.” researchers to model seaNaval Station Norfolk in — Mary Cialone, level rises at half-meter Virginia. Called the Risk USACE hydraulics engineer increments from 0 to 2 Quantification for Sustainmeters. ing Coastal Military Taken together, the Installation Asset and modeling system provides “dial-a-storm” Mission Capabilities (RC-1701), the study capability. “You dial in which storm you was part of a broader assessment of military want to look at; you dial in which sea-levelbases along the Atlantic and other coastlines rise scenario you want to look at; and it commissioned by the Department of basically turns infrastructure boxes red if Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research they fail,” Burks-Copes said, adding that and Development Program (SERDP) in 2008. these vulnerabilities will inform future base But RC-1701 is special. designs and retrofits. “There’s never been a study that analyzes The North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive storms and sea-level rise with as many Study (NACCS), ordered by Congress after cutting-edge technologies as we’ve used,” Superstorm Sandy, which caused major said Kelly Burks-Copes, an ecologist at the damage and deaths in 2012, takes a broader Engineer Research and Development Center sweep than Norfolk. In that study, released (ERDC) and program manager for RC-1701. in January, researchers looked at flood risks “No one has ever looked at the impact for communities and infrastructure — not of these two forces together on military just military bases — in the North Atlantic infrastructure and missions like we’ve done region in order to develop a storm riskit,” she said. reduction planning framework for affected Tying together no less than 12 different areas as well as nationwide. models, the study takes into account everything from hurricane-driven waves to CO N T I N U E D underground aquifer storage. The models

It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and most of the $14.6 billion allotted to flood protection projects has been spent by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Mike Park, chief of operations for the New Orleans District and former head of Task Force Hope, the office within the Mississippi Valley Division charged with managing the design and construction of the post-disaster Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS). The HSDRRS comprises a system of levees, pumping stations, surge gates and canal structures that, as of September 2011, is able to withstand a once-in-a100-years storm surge. For example, floodwalls with an I-wall configuration (a steel sheet driven into an earthen embankment with a concrete cap) have been replaced by stronger T-walls. And in surge areas of New Orleans East and St. Bernard Parish, the walls have risen to 31 feet in height. Some construction is ongoing. During Katrina, the levees that failed had suffered from the effects of erosion, Park said. To prevent that from happening again, the Corps plans to take highperformance turf mats and place them over the earthen levees. Farm-grown sod will then send roots through the mat and

into the levee, protecting it from erosion. “We’re going to armor 80 miles of levees with this material,” Park said. Likewise, as of January, the Corps has finished nearly all of its 154 Superstorm Sandy Recovery Program projects, with about 20 still to be completed, said Lin Miller, a communications specialist in the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Management Division, North Atlantic Division. Most of these projects involve beach replenishment. The Long Beach Island project in Ocean County, N.J., for instance, will involve depositing and sculpting 8.2 million cubic yards of sand over 12 miles of beach — to the tune of $128 million. “It’s going to be one of the largest beach fill projects we’ve ever undertaken in one contract,” said Steve Rochette, a public affairs officer for the Corps’ Philadelphia District. To build 22-foot-tall dunes, the Corps sends a dredge 2 to 3 miles offshore. The ship sucks up a sand slurry with its dragline and then pumps the slurry onto the beach. The sand is then bulldozed into position. Although the Corps will have to work around summer tourists and weather at sea, Rochette expects the Long Beach Island project to be completed in nine to 12 months. — Erik Schechter

USACE

The Seabrook Floodgate Complex, under construction in 2012, is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ project to reinforce flood protection around New Orleans.


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PROJECT: RESILIENCE

SOAKING UP CARBON DIOXIDE AND RAINWATER

USACE

A comprehensive study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took a broad look at flood risks along the Atlantic coast, studying communities and civilian infrastructure as well as military sites. The purple sections are at the highest risk of damage from flooding or storm surge. In doing so, NACCS As a result of the Comcombined, for the first prehensive Evaluation of “There’s never time, FEMA maps, seaProjects with Respect to been a study that level-change scenarios, Sea-Level Change (CESL), and the Sea, Lake and which completed its first analyzes storms Overland Surges from Hurphase last September, and sea-level rise ricanes model (and, in the 1,431 Corps projects course of the study, also across the country were with as many refined the hydrodynamic screened for resilience. ADvanced CIRCulation Surprisingly, two-thirds cutting-edge model). met the standards. technologies.” Coastal terrain from “A lot of the really old Maine to Virginia, plus ones were designed with — Kelly Burks-Copes, bodies of water stretching the idea that you needed USACE ecologist down to the Gulf of to account for things Mexico, were subdithat might happen in the vided into 3 million nodes. Over this grid, future, which could be different than the researchers created 1,000 synthetic storms historical record,” said Kate White, lead of varying sizes, intensities and landfall for the Corps’ Climate Preparedness and locations. Resilience Community of Practice program. “So we look at potentially 1,000 different Of those that fell short, 24 were storms that can occur, and then we perform categorized as having a “very high vulnerstatistical analyses of those different ability,” White said. Phase two of CESL, the events,” said Mary Cialone, a hydraulics intermediate detailed analysis, which is engineer at the ERDC and technical lead for scheduled to wrap up in September, will numerical modeling within NACCS. review those projects first before moving Researchers then had the ability to go on to the ones tagged as “highly vulnerable” node by node and, say, look at the friction and “vulnerable.” The nationwide study caused by local vegetation during a once-inshares the hydrodynamic model used in a-100-years storm, thanks to these interthe Norfolk study, but CESL is more of a playing models and the high-performance staggered, screening approach, rather than supercomputers running them, she said. an expensive deep-dive at one locale. The data will allow planners to construct “You can’t apply the level of detail that more effective levees, surge gates and other was applied at Norfolk to everything,” said barriers. White. “Nor do you want to.”

There’s no denying that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 250 parts per million (ppm) to 400 ppm over the past 150 years, according to Steven L. Larson, a researcher at the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A major factor contributing to the escape of this gas into the air has been poor land usage and erosion. Larson and his colleagues came up with a way to trap carbon dioxide in the soil and promote root growth — thus preventing erosion and mitigating the destructive effects of storm floods. “Soils low in organic matter retain water very poorly,” he said. “So when it rains, it all goes straight into the lakes, streams and rivers.” The trick is to get a sugar-loving microbe called Rhizobium tropici to overproduce a slimy film of polysaccharides, Larson said. This extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) promotes root growth (and, therefore, carbon dioxide usage) by protecting the plant from the poisonous effects of aluminum in the soil. EPS also stabilizes the earth around those roots, preventing erosion. EPS also provides a home for beneficial soil microbes and fungi, which can convert organic matter into stable forms of carbon that stay in the soil a long time. To produce the substance, ERDC researchers place Rhizobium tropici and sugar in a bioreactor — essentially a large kettle fed by air hoses and maintained

within a certain pH range — and let nature take its course over the next six weeks. “It’s not much different from brewing beer,” Larson said. “When you make beer, a microbe acts on sugar and produces ethanol.” Research into EPS began in 1999 when the Army was looking for novel ways to repair bombed runways. The idea was to pour a mix of soil, microbe and microbial food into the craters and let the bacteria turn everything into concrete. It would’ve worked — but it would have taken 15 years, Larson said. Then, in 2008, two companies licensed the research to study applications in revegetation and mining reclamation. Green & Grow Inc., for instance, which develops biologically derived agricultural products, has been using metabolites, including EPS and other bacteria-derived compounds in agriculture and reclamation. “We treat native grass seed after a wildfire to prevent cheatgrass from quickly taking over an area,” said Chief Research Officer Gary Nijak Jr. ERDC is now exploring ways of using Rhizobium tropici-produced EPS to stabilize steep areas at dams, levees and Army installations, and it’s also looking at other microbes. But Nijak warned against viewing EPS as the “be-all, end-all.” Microbes are difficult to grow and tend to be very niche in use. “In some parts of the biological space, we’re still in the early days,” he said. — Erik Schechter

FEMA

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Paul Floro checks the progress of a project to stabilize the Buras Levee in Louisiana. The Corps is studying ways to quickly repair such structures using biomaterials.


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Maj. Michelle Dittloff, left, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District’s Forward Engineer Support TeamAdvanced (FEST-A), visited the Monrovia Medical Unit in Liberia for medical workers fighting Ebola in November. She is pictured with two U.S. Public Health Service members. Jenn McCarthy, below, a USACE New England District environmental scientist, conducted reconnaissance in November of the Sanniquellie Army Field Temporary Lab. Her team helped ensure the U.S. didn’t harm Liberia’s environment while working to stop the spread of Ebola.

ENGINEERING By Matt Alderton

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HEN MAJ. MICHELLE DITTLOFF arrived in Monrovia on Oct. 22, 2014, Liberia’s capital city resembled a West African Chernobyl. Storefronts were closed. Schools were abandoned. Homes were still. And streets were hauntingly empty. As it turns out, fever, diarrhea and internal bleeding weren’t the only symptoms of the Ebola virus. Social stagnation and civic paralysis were also rampant. “It was almost like a ghost town,” said Dittloff, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District’s Forward Engineer Support Team-Advanced (FEST-A). “People were not moving around; they were locked

RELIEF

down in their homes.” Her team of 13 engineers deployed to Liberia to support the mission of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. When the team exited Liberia six months later, on April 8, the city was a different place. “It was a chaotic urban city when we left,” said Dittloff. The number of new Ebola cases in Liberia had dropped from 300 per week in August to the declaration of the country being “Ebola-free” in May — and the city was functioning more normally again. “It was such a difference,” she said. The improvement was owed not only to the medical professionals who screened and treated Ebola patients, but also to the facilities and infrastructure that supported their work.

That infrastructure was made possible by the four soldiers and nine Army civilian volunteers — including civil, electrical, mechanical and environmental engineers — who constituted Dittloff’s team. Along with past and present FEST teams, these engineers represent an important and lesser-known mission of the Corps: leveraging expertise in support of humanitarian response and disaster planning in foreign countries. Hurricanes, floods, typhoons, wildfires, tornadoes, landslides and earthquakes — the most recent ones in Nepal, where a pair of deadly temblors struck within 17 days, killing more than 8,500 — have all been mitigated with USACE engagement. “Severe disasters are occurring in different places around the world with great frequency;


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FEST-A members Stephen Lahti, center, and Jason Riharb are greeted by local children last November in Liberia as part of Operation United Assistance. Milton Ricks, a USACE New York District civil engineer, right, was deployed to a site assessment for construction of an Ebola treatment unit in Gbarpolu County, north of Monrovia, Liberia.

USACE helps mitigate humanitarian crises and natural disasters around the world. PHOTOS BY USACE

we have the ability to reduce the impact of these disasters by helping others prepare for them and respond to them,” said Lloyd Caldwell, USACE director of military programs. Back in West Africa, the disaster was an epidemic. And while most of us would have opted to stay far away from the outbreak, Dittloff’s team volunteered to work in the center of the action. “As a military officer, it was such a privilege to work with a volunteer team,” said Dittloff, who on April 29 completed 21 days of mandatory medical monitoring after returning from Africa. “There was a lot of hysteria about this disease, so it’s remarkable that these people all jumped in and said, ‘I want to help.’” FEST-A electrical engineer Anton Klein was one of the volunteers. He was apprehensive but

also resolute about the need to help. “No one knew what was going to happen with Ebola. It was very scary,” Klein said. “But I knew we could help because the FEST team is such a unique asset that the Army has. Most of us are professional engineers or land surveyors, so we bring a lot to the table in terms of the problems we have experience solving.” And there were plenty of problems to overcome, from Liberia’s lack of potable water to its substandard power grid and tropical climate. During the six-month mission, the 101st constructed 10 temporary Ebola treatment units (ETUs) in Liberia, not to mention temporary accommodations for 2,698 troops. Both efforts required FEST-A support, which included site surveys, environmental studies, well drilling,

power generation and distribution and field engineering. “One of the major things we worked on was the runway at Roberts International Airport. There is only one runway for international flights in all of Liberia, so even in the best of times it can be a logistical quandary,” Dittloff said. “When we originally got to Liberia, they had shut down the seaport, so we were receiving all our supplies by aircraft, which meant we had to continuously evaluate the runway to make sure we weren’t causing damage that would negatively impact Liberia’s ability to support its own trade.” Being good stewards of their infrastructure and environment further ingratiated the Corps CO N T I N U E D


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A pair of deadly earthquakes in Nepal in April and May left more than 8,500 people dead and more than twice as many injured. USACE last year completed work on Kathmandu’s first blood bank, above, which went into immediate operation. The “Tibetan for Nepal” volunteers, top left, donated blood after the second quake May 12 at the facility at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, a seismically sound facility designed to supply blood to patients at 75 percent of the medical facilities and hospitals in Kathmandu Valley in the event of a major quake. The facility showed no signs of buckling after either temblor and the blood bank filled its stock with donations.

PHOTOS BY USACE

with Liberians, who welcomed U.S. troops wholeheartedly, according to Klein. “They told me that just seeing U.S. soldiers and military personnel gave them hope,” he said. “When things were at their darkest, knowing the U.S. was there to help gave them confidence that things were going to get better.”

PREPPING FOR DISASTER

Engineering expertise makes FEST-A teams critical to U.S. operations. “When you get into Army units, there’s limited technical engineering capability,” said Maj. Chris Kolditz, a military and training planner for USACE’s operations section. “The Army came to USACE and said, ‘We want you to fill this gap.’ That’s how the USACE Field Force Engineering program (of which FEST-A teams are a part) came about. We provide technical engineering and contract construction in

support of combatant commands and Army components during contingencies, exercises and peace-time engagements.” Engineering expertise is as critical before crises as it is after. The Corps supports the Army’s humanitarian mission through its Civil Military Emergency Preparedness (CMEP) program, which holds emergency preparedness training events to help partner nations build their capacity to manage crises. “The best way to respond to natural disasters is to put together pre-designated teams of engineers and train them so they are true experts in things like temporary housing, assessment of damaged infrastructure, debris removal and temporary power,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, USACE director of contingency operations and office of homeland security. Through the CMEP program, she said, USACE provides technical assistance to help

other nations assemble and train their own teams the way it has done at home. In Nepal, where a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck April 25, followed by another 17 days later, the death toll likely would have been much larger if not for the Corps, which a year prior completed work on Kathmandu’s first blood bank. Located at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, the seismically sound facility withstood the quakes and was able to supply blood to patients at 75 percent of the medical facilities and hospitals in Kathmandu Valley. “A lot of risks in Nepal relate to a major earthquake in Kathmandu,” Stan Wharry, chief of the Alaska District’s Asia Office, said before the quake occurred. “U.S. Pacific Command (which sponsored the blood bank) really CO N T I N U E D


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PLANNING AHEAD

IN ASIA, SAFETY BREEDS SECURITY

USACE

An aerial view of the Ebola treatment unit in Zorzor, Liberia, on Jan. 10. wants us to focus on building and providing such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And infrastructure that can stand up to earthquakes in Uzbekistan, USACE held a workshop on within that region.” technology for forecasting, monitoring and After the first quake, Wharry reported from tracking national emergencies. Nepal that the blood bank was in good condition “This year we’ll be doing about 18 events, and being used as expected. including our first-ever event Additionally, six of seven deepin Pakistan, which is probably tube water wells built by the our highlight of the year,” said Corps were functioning. CMEP program manager Diane “When things were Acurio. Those sessions will TRAINING at their darkest, deal with flood, debris and RESPONDERS emergency management, and knowing the U.S. Since 1998, the Corps has media communications during conducted more than 350 disasters. was there to help CMEP events in 41 countries. In places like Pakistan gave them confiThe events touch on subjects and North Africa, where such as disaster preparedUSACE currently is courting dence that things ness surveying, national new CMEP participants, were going to get response plan development, knowledge transfer lessens GIS mapping, critical infrathe humanitarian impact better.” structure protection, crisis of natural disasters, as well — Anton Klein communications and military/ as the political and military FESTA-A electrical engineer civil cooperation. impact. “When we can In 2014, USACE facilitated use our capability to build 14 such events in 10 coungoodwill, and to strengthen tries. The work included our relationship with nations, conducting a disaster response exercise in the it has a tendency to open access in other areas,” nation of Georgia, where the Corps helped the Caldwell said. country test its newly formed National Secu“It gives us good insight into what’s going on rity Crisis Management Council. In a disaster in different nations and what their challenges are, preparedness seminar in Turkmenistan, experts which helps us understand what may be in U.S. shared lessons learned during U.S. disasters interests there.”

The U.S. military is in the midst of a strategic rebalance of resources toward Asia. So is the USACE, which is engaged in numerous and diverse disasterplanning activities designed to increase security across the Asia-Pacific region. “Our customers, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are really interested in stability within the region, and when disasters strike nations it creates major instability,” explained Stan Wharry, chief of the Alaska District’s Asia Office. “If we can support host nations in disaster planning, countries will be better off and more stable when they’re hit by a natural disaster.” USACE currently manages some 200 humanitarian projects that receive more than $80 million in funding across Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos, besides Nepal and the recent earthquakes, Wharry said. Cyclones and typhoons are one regional risk. In Bangladesh, the Corps has designed and built 23 coastal crisis management centers that double as schools and coast guard stations during normal times, and 17 cyclone shelters that double as schools. Ultimately, the Corps will build 100 of these shelters. “In remote areas of Bangladesh, villages don’t have concrete structures; they have small wooden shacks,” Wharry said. “During a cyclone or typhoon, these villages and their infrastructure would be annihilated. The facilities we’re constructing for both USAID and PACOM in Bangladesh are elevated concrete structures that can be used as shelter during a storm, which is much safer than dangerous wooden shacks.” Another area of major concern across the Asia-Pacific region is water resource management, which is a priority for USACE efforts there, according to James Ligh, chief of business management at the Pacific Ocean Division. “Asia-Pacific has 35 percent of the global population, but only 15 percent of the world’s water,” Ligh said. “And if you look at it in terms of disaster planning, disaster management is very linked to how you manage and preserve water — whether you have too much of it or too little.” The Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia — spanning China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam — is an area of particular concern. There, the Corps is engaged in 29 capacity-building activities. “There are a lot of proposed dams along the Mekong River, and we’re trying to provide technical assistance there on things like dam safety, sediment management, governance and transboundary relationshipbuilding among the many countries that share that resource,” USACE Ligh said. “We’ve had to deal at home with similar Participants in a basic sediment analysis challenges as the ones workshop visit the site for the Nam Khan 3 hydroelectric dam in Luang Prabang in they’re facing along the Laos in March. Mekong River in terms of assuring water for multiple purposes — ecological, fish, water, flood control — and those are lessons learned that we can share.” Whether it’s consulting on dam construction in Thailand or building cyclone shelters in Bangladesh, the Corps’ activities aren’t just humanitarian in nature; they’re also diplomatic. “There is a huge benefit to the United States from an international relations perspective,” said Drew Benziger, chief of readiness and contingency operations for the Pacific Ocean Division. “A disaster hitting a country opens them up for potential disruption in government ... Helping them build resilience ... helps them maintain continuity of government — and we benefit from that.” — Matt Alderton


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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has long tended the Mississippi River, seen here from a scenic overlook at the Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson, Mo.

MEET THE

DIVISIONS The Army Corps’ missions, from sea to shining sea

E

By Peggy J. Noonan

NGINEERS INCORPORATE THE CONCEPT of resilience into their work, “whether it’s something as simple as a foundation design or levee design,” said James C. Dalton, chief of engineering and construction for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). “It’s part of our training. Resilience is absolutely not a new concept.” But the idea of bouncing back after a major event has taken on new meaning in the wake of expensive disasters, a changing climate and new military missions. Now, resilience “helps those that we serve to better understand risk and uncertainty,” Dalton said. “In just about any definition of resilience, you’ll see the terms ‘prepare,’ ‘absorb,’ ‘recover’ and ‘adapt.’” Those four principles of resilience help the Corps plan ahead. In disaster response, for example, the Corps prepares by putting measures into place so a community can better absorb the

results of events such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes, and during cleanup and rebuilding. As the community recovers, the Corps can help by providing shelter or electricity, or by pumping away water from flooded areas. And it assists military communities in adapting to changing needs, including the new emphasis on sustainability. The Army’s Net Zero initiative, for example, helps to better manage water and energy use as well as waste disposal at Army facilities. “By achieving Net Zero energy, water and waste, our installations can more quickly recover from catastrophic events or minimize disruptions to mission operations,” Dalton said. Meet the nine divisions of the Army Corps and learn how they’re carrying out these missions. CO N T I N U E D

GAYLE HARPER


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MEET THE DIVISIONS Maj. Gen. Mike Wehr, commander of the Mississippi Valley Division watches the mat sinking unit at work at Fair Landing in Arkansas in November from aboard the Corps’ motor vessel JAMES.

Federal, state and local officials took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bolivar Dam seepage barrier near Canton, Ohio, in November.

USACE

GREAT LAKES AND OHIO RIVER DIVISION (LRD) u 4,200 civilian employees u Seven districts, based in Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; Detroit; Huntington, W.Va.; Louisville, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Pittsburgh. Headquarters: Cincinnati u Location: The LRD includes all or part of 17 states extending from upper Minnesota and Lake Superior to northern Alabama, and from eastern New York to eastern Minnesota. SNAPSHOT: LRD is responsible for the Great Lakes and Ohio River water management program — which includes navigation, flood control, hydropower and supply — and is the steward of over 90 percent of the nation’s surface freshwater (water found in lakes, rivers and swamps). Its civil works include maintaining 3,400 miles of commercial waterways, 66 deep-draft harbors more than 45 feet deep, 80 shallow-draft harbors, as well as managing hydropower plants, recreation areas and flood risk. The division is currently upgrading several of the large and aging locks and dams needed to maintain smooth navigation along the Ohio. Conserving both energy and potable water is another “big driver” of the LRD’s work to build sustainability; the division routinely achieves LEED Silver ratings, said Donald Johangtes, chief of military programs. “Our proudest example is a facility we built at Fort Campbell,” an Army base on the Kentucky-Tennessee border that achieved LEED Gold level with up to 50 percent savings on energy and potable water.

USACE

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY DIVISION (MVD)

SAMANTHA HEILIG

For the Mississippi River Project, a crew makes repairs to a roller gate at Locks and Dam 14 in Pleasant Valley, Iowa, after a barge hit it earlier this year.

COURTESY OF PHILLIPS & JORDAN INC.

Construction ended in July on the first part of the Indian River-South C-44 reservoir and stormwater treatment project in Martin County, Fla.

u 4,885 employees u Six districts, based in Memphis; New Orleans; Rock Island, Ill.; St. Louis; St. Paul; and Vicksburg, Miss. Headquarters: Vicksburg u Location: MVD covers portions of 12 states and the entire Mississippi River — the world’s third largest — from the river’s primary source at Minnesota’s Lake Itasca to its endpoint in Louisiana at the Gulf of Mexico.

SNAPSHOT: The Great Flood of 1927 drowned 27,000 square miles of land around the Mississippi up to a depth of 30 feet in some places, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and about 500 deaths. Since then, the MVD’s top priority has been the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project, which works to prevent floods on a scale of the 1927 disaster while keeping the river safe and navigable. Since 1928, $14.4 billion has been invested in the project, which has prevented $639 billion in flood damages. “The river requires constant vigilance,” said Charles A. Camillo, historian for the MVD and the Mississippi River Commission, and that continues today. When man-made controls failed in the 1927 flood, more than 16 million acres of land flooded. But during a “significant” flood in 2011, “those areas were protected,” Camillo said. In a controversial move, the Corps had to open several floodways along the Mississippi Valley to prevent levee collapses and the inundation of an area home to about 4 million people and acres of fertile farmland. “(We were) letting the river do what it wants to do, to flood certain areas in order to protect other areas,” he said. “(All that water) needs to go somewhere and you can’t confine it ... so we learn to live with that.”


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MEET THE DIVISIONS

KEVIN DALEY

USACE took part in the 193rd Observance of President Ulysses S. Grant’s birthday in April at the General Grant National Memorial in New York City, the final resting place of Grant and his wife, Julia. The granite and marble structure is the largest mausoleum in North America.

NORTH ATLANTIC DIVISION (NAD) u 3,500 employees u Six districts, based in Baltimore; Concord, Mass. (the New England District); New York City; Norfolk, Va.; Philadelphia; and Wiesbaden, Germany (the Europe District). Headquarters: Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, N.Y. u Location: NAD covers all or part of 14 northeastern states plus the District of Columbia, Europe and Africa. SNAPSHOT: The NAD is home to the Corps’ National Planning Center of Expertise for Coastal Storm Damage Reduction, established in 2003. The center studies ways to prevent and minimize destruction along fragile coastlines, and was instrumental in the post-Hurricane Katrina work to improve storm response. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, NAD supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the initial disaster and recovery phases, removing debris, clearing roads and restoring power to affected communities. But the division also took a “significantly more complex” look at damage, said David Leach, the NAD’s regional director of programs. The North Atlantic Comprehensive Coastal Study (NACCS), published in January, looked at the impacts of sea-level rise, climate change and inundation that could potentially result from future storms. “We look at resilience as how long does it take a community, a village, a town, a county to recover from an event,” he said. The report, subtitled “Resilient Adaptation to Increasing Risk,” found that climate change and sea-level rise make these coastal areas very vulnerable, Leach said. It would be very difficult to retreat from the densely populated coastlines of New York and New Jersey, so “now the question becomes, how do we reduce the risk of those communities and increase their resilience through multiple measures?”

USACE

The Lower Granite Dam has a navigation lock, powerhouse and fish ladder that provides hydroelectric power, navigation, recreation and irrigation on the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington state. Located at the upstream end of Lake Bryan, it is about 3,200 feet long and 100 feet high.

NORTHWESTERN DIVISION (NWD) u 5,000 employees u Five districts, based in Kansas City, Mo.; Omaha; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Walla Walla, Wash. Headquarters: Portland, Ore. u Location: NWD cuts a 2,000-mile swath from the Northwest Pacific coast and Canadian border to the nation’s heartland, enveloping 14 states and 107 sovereign tribal nations. SNAPSHOT: Two major rivers cut throuth the NWD: the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon; and the Missouri River, which runs from Montana to Missouri. The division’s civil works include 34 dams, 10 locks, 1,079 miles of levees, 21 power plants,

465 miles of navigable waterways and 111.4 million acre feet of water storage in the Columbia Basin. The Missouri River basin has 46 dams, 1,877 miles of levees, eight power plants, 734 miles of navigable waterway and 100.8 million acre feet of water. But the division keeps a close eye on what’s going on underground as well. The western part of the region borders the 800-mile-long Cascadia subduction zone, located in an earthquake-prone area that extends offshore from northern California up the coastlines of Oregon and Washington into British Columbia for about 620 miles. The last major earthquake linked to the zone happened in 1700, and at an estimated 9.0 on the Richter scale, caused a tsunami in Japan. If

that happened today, it could take out the busy Interstate 5 corridor that links Canada to California, as well as countless key bridges, utilities and other infrastructure. The 2011 Tohuku earthquake in Japan, which caused a deadly tsunami and a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, and the 2014 landslide in Oso, Wash., that killed 43 people, were a double-barreled wakeup call. “Even though folks are residents of the northwest, they don’t necessarily know what Cascadia is or how that would affect them,” said John K. Leighow, the NWD’s chief of readiness and contingency operations, “(The Oso slide) raised awareness for landslide risks and what the states are trying to do now.”


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MEET THE DIVISIONS SOUTH ATLANTIC DIVISION (SAD) u 3,355 employees u Five districts, based in Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville; Mobile, Ala.; Savannah, Ga.; and Wilmington, N.C. Headquarters: Atlanta u Location: SAD covers eight states in the southeastern U.S. as well as the Caribbean and Central and South America.

PHOTOS BY USACE

Far East District engineers made sure water now flows freely to the Madison Site, above, a small communications facility near the city of Suwon, South Korea, atop Mount Gwanggyosan, which is almost 2,300 feet in elevation.

SNAPSHOT: Home to 11 Army posts, 13 Air Force bases and four major commands, the SAD builds barracks, hospitals, office buildings, commissaries and other facilities for this large chunk of military. On the civilian side, it’s working to deepen the important Savannah Harbor from 42 feet to 47 feet so that it can accommodate larger container vessels, and it’s also part of the ongoing restoration of Florida’s Everglades. Its Mobile District has a very particular goal aside from that, however. It oversees activities in Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle, which historically have seen some of the biggest losses from hurricanes dating back to Hurricane Betsy in 1965, then Camille in 1969 and most recently the 2005 triple-punch of Katrina, Rita and Wilma. “We have a very fragile coastline,” said Susan Ivester Rees, a program manager in the Mobile District. “In fact, the part of the northern Gulf (of Mexico) where Louisiana and Mississippi come together is probably three times more likely to get hit by a severe tropical event than any other place in the Gulf ... It’s almost like a funnel for tropical waves, coming right into that area.” What the Corps brings to the table in that situation, she said, is “the planning expertise of looking long-range and trying to develop plans that ultimately will lead this area to becoming more resilient. Communication is probably the most critical piece in all of this.”

District engineers helped provide a facelift to Kunsan Air Base’s runway in South Korea, left. Some 520 concrete slabs were replaced on the main runway, 92 on the taxiways.

PACIFIC OCEAN DIVISION (POD) u 1,500 employees u Four districts, based in Anchorage (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska District); Camp Zama, Japan (Japan District); Honolulu and Seoul (Far East District). Headquarters: Honolulu u Location: The POD’s area of responsibility encompasses American interests in the Pacific region, stretching from Anchorage to American Samoa and on to Tokyo and Seoul. SNAPSHOT: The POD covers the diverse Asia-Pacific region, which it says is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population in 36 countries. It includes five nations allied with the U.S. through mutual defense

treaties, several of the world’s largest militaries, two of the three largest economies, and 10 of the 14 smallest economies. The goal is to develop resiliency with partner nations throughout the region. “I’ve got over 70-plus activities going on in 18 of the (36) nations, principally in the Lower Mekong region,” including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Milhorn, the POD’s commander and division engineer. The division’s humanitarian assistance work includes constructing schools, medical clinics, emergency operations and blood fusion centers, multipurpose cyclone shelters and other training facilities. “You are seeing the

resilience actually maturing in each of those areas,” Milhorn said. In addition, USACE works on building sustainability in the region. The POD maintains the Corps’ Energy Modeling Center of Expertise in Sustainability, and the division runs simulations that “allow us to determine or define opportunities for energy conservation factors with the best potential benefits and outcomes.” The largely civilian employees sometimes serve a semi-diplomatic role as well, Milhorn said: “This agency can be used as a ‘soft power’ oftentimes to enable us to gain access to regions that may not be willing to accept military assistance or to conduct military-to-military engagements.”

USACE

New operations manuals were approved in May for the AlabamaCoosa-Tallapoosa River System, part of which is shown above. Modeled on current conditions, the manuals provide the first basinwide drought operations plan and have already prompted federal court challenges.


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MEET THE DIVISIONS SOUTH PACIFIC DIVISION (SPD) u 2,300 employees u Four districts, based in Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco. Headquarters: San Francisco u Location: The SAD covers all or part of 10 southwestern states.

AUSTIN KUHLMAN

Abiquiu Park ranger Nathaniel Naranjo inspects the fence line above Abiquiu Dam, located on the Rio Chama, about 60 miles northwest of Santa Fe.

SNAPSHOT: Got a tough job? The SPD says bring it on. “It’s almost like this organization wants to be challenged on the hardest things there are and show people we can find a way to do this,” said Joseph F. Calcara, the division’s director of programs. “We’re going to get it done. We’re going to figure it out. There’s no challenge that will stop us.” The Sacramento district, for example, was one of the two districts managing construction of the National Security Agency’s $1.2 billion Utah Data Center. The 1 millionsquare-foot facility was built in a remote area with little infrastructure, and was completed in three years. A separate hospital project at Fort Irwin, Calif., came to a halt when a minor change in the building’s footprint put it atop highly contaminated dirt with unexploded munitions. Cleanup took a year and the hospital will open behind schedule, Calcara said. “We’re still under budget, and we’re moving along.” That’s because USACE has the talent to overcome these problems, he said. “We train our folks to be expeditionary (in) how they are able to help each other, how we matrix in talent from 33,000 people scattered around the world.”

SOUTHWESTERN DIVISION (SWD) u 2,700 employees u Four districts, based in Fort Worth; Galveston, Texas; Little Rock; and Tulsa. Headquarters: Dallas u Location: The SWD covers all or part of seven south-central states. SNAPSHOT: SWD is responsible for about 2.3 million acres of public land and water, as well as 18 hydropower plants that provide electricity to about 8 million people; 74 lakes and reservoirs; and three of the nation’s 10 largest ports (Beaumont, Corpus Christi and Houston, all in Texas). The division places a huge emphasis on sustainability and resilience when it comes to future environmental events. “Climate change was once considered an issue for the distant future,” said Anthony Semento, chief of readiness and contingency operations for the SWD, “but it has moved firmly into the present.” So his division is studying the Marion Reservoir watershed in Kansas, because unlike coastal or mountainous areas, where changes in sea level or snow pack can be easily observed, the climate impact on water supply reservoirs in the flatter Plains region is less obvious. Col. Richard J. Muraski Jr., the division’s deputy commander, said that sustainability goes hand-in-hand with resiliency. “In the Southwestern Division, we store almost a third of the Southwest Division’s drinking water in our reservoirs. We’ve got to be able to sustain those (reservoirs) so that population can count on that water.”

ED RIVERA

Students, parents and staff from Whitney Middle School viewed a simulated rescue-and-recovery operation at Walling Bend Park on Whitney Lake near Waco, Texas. It was part of a water safety program created by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park rangers to discourage cliff jumping.


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MEET THE DIVISIONS

CENTERS OF ATTENTION In addition to the nine divisions, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also operates specialized centers that support their work. Here are three of them:

ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER (ERDC) u 2,500 employees u Labs in Alexandria, Va.; Champaign, Ill.; Hanover, N.H.; and Vicksburg, Miss. Headquarters: Vicksburg PURPOSE: The scientific and engineering research arm of the Army Corps. “We work all the way from basic science to actual solution,” said Dr. Jeffery Holland, the ERDC’s director.

U.S. ARMY ENGINEERING AND SUPPORT CENTER JULIE SHOEMAKER

Transatlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. Robert Carlson works with students at a USACE STEM event in Winchester, Va.

TRANSATLANTIC DIVISION (TAD) u 648 employees u Two districts, based in Kabul (Transatlantic Afghanistan District) and Winchester, Va. (Middle East District). Headquarters: Winchester u Location: The TAD covers 20 countries in the U.S. Central Command area of operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

SNAPSHOT: Established in 1991 to support reconstruction after the first Gulf War, TAD is the newest USACE division. It designs and builds facilities for U.S. forces and supports coalition forces as well as Department of Defense-funded programs that provide humanitarian assistance and counternarcotics efforts. The division works to help countries “solve their own regional stability challenges” in places like Syria and Yemen, said Col. Richard Heitkamp, the division’s chief of staff. “That’s the best solution we can apply to the unique problems and

challenges of the Middle East.” The Center for Standardization for Contingency Designs, operated by the Middle East District, creates designs for buildings and facilities that can be adapted easily and inexpensively to any environment — “(plans) we can pull off the shelf,” Heitkamp said — and that can be built by troops rather than construction workers if need be. “We have people who are very good at operating in austere environments,” he said. But the district also works on complex projects such as a state-of-the-art hospital underway in Kuwait.

u 931 employees u Offices in Alexandria, Va., and Omaha. Headquarters: Huntsville, Ala. PURPOSE: Provides specialized technical expertise for projects that are otherwise broad in scope. Col. Robert J. Ruch, the center’s commander, said, “We pick up the things that other people do not have the expertise to do, things that are kind of scary,” such as cleaning up training ranges on operating bases in Afghanistan after troops leave. The center also built the nation’s only operational ABM system still deployed by the United States, the Stanley R. Mickelson SAFEGUARD missile complex in North Dakota.

ARMY GEOSPATIAL CENTER (AGC) u 300 employees u Headquarters: Alexandria, Va.

BILL DOWELL

Constructed for the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps at Camp Shorabak in the Helmand Province, this building is one of the largest constructed of arched-steel panels in Afghanistan. The 79-foot-wide, 548-foot-long building is a multi-purpose facility housing everything from office space to turret repair.

PURPOSE: The AGC coordinates, integrates and synchronizes geospatial information requirements and standards across the Army. “Our top priorities are to support our soldiers and war fighters deployed across the globe and to continue to develop and implement an Army Geospatial Enterprise (AGE) that will allow for ... sharing of geospatial information,” said Dr. Joseph F. Fontanella, the center’s director. — Peggy J. Noonan


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10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

KATRINA

The hurricane struck Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005, with horrific force that killed more than 1,800 people.

JAMES A. FINLEY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2005

ANN HEISENFELT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

RIC FRANCIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Katrina caused as much as $125 billion in damage, mostly to New Orleans, where several levees failed, including at the 17th Street Canal, pictured at top in September 2005; the London Avenue Canal, center; and the Orleans Avenue Canal along Orleans Street, bottom. Repairs were underway in October 2005 on the London Avenue levee that was breached, right.

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10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

PHOTOS BY USACE

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These aerial views taken almost 10 years after Katrina show the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ repairs on the Permanent Canal Closures & Pumps project. Work on the permanent gated storm surge barriers and pump stations continued in April at the Orleans Avenue Canal, above; at the 17th Street Canal in May, bottom left, and at the London Avenue levee, right.


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The 1,840-foot pier at the Field Research Facility is the conduit allowing scientists and researchers access to the Atlantic Ocean.

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SHORE

WORK

Corps studies the seas in an effort to protect coastal communities Story and photography by Matt Harrington

J

UST A FEW MILES from where the Wright brothers took their famous first flights in 1903, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is doing its part to move the country forward in a critical way. But instead of looking to the sky, it’s looking down — to the depths of the ocean, to be exact. The Field Research Facility (FRF) near Duck, N.C., is part of the Coastal Observations & Analysis Branch, and the scientists there are doing groundbreaking research in analyzing waves and their impact on the ocean floor and shoreline. The goal? Use the research to help prepare communities for the impact of huge storms like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. Jeffrey Waters heads the facility, a former U.S. Navy bombing site that occupies a pristine location in North Carolina among the dunes along the Atlantic Ocean and stretches to Currituck Sound. It covers 175 acres. The FRF’s building itself doesn’t

inspire a lot of awe — it’s a small structure raised above the dunes, and includes a few outbuildings that house all types of enormous machinery and vehicles, from forklifts and cranes to repurposed LARCs (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo vehicles) that move seamlessly from beach to water. Out the back door, a pier stretches 1,840 feet into the ocean, where FRF scientists, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) crews and other researchers come to measure weather information and gather ocean data. “As a society, we’re getting really dependent on empirical data and computer modeling” to help predict the impact of a large weather event on the shoreline, Waters said. “There’s a real need for that underlying data” to create those models and continuously test them for accuracy. “And collecting data in the surf zone is just really difficult.” CO N T I N U E D


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CLOSING THE GAP

FRF Chief Jeffrey Waters stands next to a LARC-5 vehicle, which allows scientists to capture data from the ocean even during storms.

Ty Wamsley, chief of the Flood and Storm Protection division of USACE, who is based in Vicksburg, Miss., and is Waters’ boss, helps develop many of those numerical models using supercomputing. “We are consistently developing our tools and improving our predictive capabilities,” Wamsley said. “There is a tight relationship between the field observations and the data analysis and development of these models.”

CHANGE IN FOCUS

When the main laboratory was completed in 1980, the station only provided support to universities and research organizations on projects. While that remains part of the FRF’s operations, eight research scientists and engineers make up the 15-person, full-time staff of the facility. As Waters discusses the program, Nick Spore, a civil engineer at the facility, is tinkering with four point-and-shoot cameras that are clicking every few seconds. The cameras, while basic in themselves (not even top-of-the-line point-and-shoots, at about 8 megapixels each), are emblematic of the technology and ingenuity in play at the facility. They are being outfitted to an odd-shaped plastic housing to attach to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The housing

Waters every day, he said. has been created using a Technology plays a 3-D printer, and the FRF “As a society, huge role. A key point of will use the setup to take research is being done photos of the shoreline we’re getting around what’s called and the shoreface — the really dependent “wave run-up,” which is part of the sea floor that when the wave breaks is shallow enough to be on empirical data and the water runs up impacted by wave motion. and computer the beach. Historically, The cameras have to be the only way to measure synchronized and set to modeling” to run-up was to stick poles just the right angles — the help predict the in the ground when 3-D printer has allowed the run-up hit its high the FRF to improve on impact of a large point on the beach. But the traditional camera using CLARIS (Coastal attached to a UAV, which weather event on Lidar and Radar Imaging just points straight down. the shoreline. System) and Argus, a “This is critical to — Jeffrey Waters, high-resolution camera understanding and system developed in predicting the response of Field Research Facility chief conjunction with Oregon a beach to a high-energy State University, researchevent, like a storm,” Waers can truly map out ters explained. the ocean floor and sandbars and see the Spore is also an example of change at impact of storms. the FRF. He is one of a new breed of young “Technology is a major driver,” Wamsley scientists and engineers — Waters also said. “Twenty years ago, this would not mentions Kate Brodie, an oceanographer, even have been feasible. It comes down to who is also working on the UAV project — understanding what technology is out there who are the next generation of researchers and being creative to solve the problem that seeking to leave their mark on the world in you have.” a positive way. It’s something that energizes

It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. At the time Katrina hit, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was working on a program called MORPHOS (MOdeling Relevant Physics Of Systems) that had launched as a response to the 2004 hurricane season. MORPHOS had a goal of developing prediction tools to analyze the risk of storms to specific coastal environments. After Katrina, the project changed, becoming part of the New Orleans rebuilding effort undertaken by the Corps, said Ty Wamsley, chief of the Flood and Storm Protection division based in Vicksburg, Miss. From there, using research from the Field Research Facility near Duck, N.C., efforts to keep coastal cities and towns safer have only intensified. “Katrina was a game-changer for everybody,” Wamsley said. “Everything is about being prepared. We’ve made significant improvement through our research since Hurricane Katrina.” One of the major changes postKatrina, he said, was an increased focus on how natural systems, such as wetlands, sandbars and dunes, can work with engineered systems, like levees, to play a role in storm risk reduction. New Orleans’ new infrastructure, the bulk of which was finished in June of 2011, was built at the level of 100-year protection, and designed after careful analysis of wave patterns and other research. Despite the ongoing research and everything the Corps has learned about waves and the shore, challenges remain as far as implementation and making communities safer, Wamsley said. “We spend less on beach nourishment (maintaining dunes and other natural features) than a lot of countries that have less coast than we do,” he noted. “But funding is always an issue.” Communities sometimes have difficulty doing a cost-benefit analysis on the types of solutions that could help minimize damage down the road should another storm hit. “We’re really just trying to make the world safer and better by being able to better design and better understand how we can protect these places in a sustainable and resilient way,” Wamsley said. — Matt Harrington


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RISING TIDE FOR

HYDROPOWER

Army Corps encourages private development while rehabbing aging hydroelectric infrastructure By Adam Hadhazy

W

ITH THE COMPLETION OF the Red Rock Dam in 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers largely put in check unruly flooding by the longest river within Iowa’s borders, the 525-mile Des Moines. Why, then, does the Corps plan to allow two 20-by-18-foot wide holes to be punched through the 1.2-milelong dam? The answer: hydropower. Construction started last August on a new 34-megawatt hydropower facility — enough to energize about 18,000 homes — by Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), a Sioux Falls, S.D.based utility that serves 61 communities in four states, including Iowa. Water from the 15,000-acre Lake Red Rock, already controlled by the Corps, will rush downstream through two tunnels bored into the Red Rock Dam’s concrete, in turn spinning turbines to crank out watts. The power plant, expected to cost about $380 million, is slated to open in 2018. The public-private partnership with MRES is one of many such collaborations the Corps hopes to forge. The agency aims to leverage its taxpayer-funded infrastructure (dams and lakes) for greater hydropower production. Already the nation’s No. 1 owner and operator of hydroelectricity, responsible for about 24 percent of U.S. hydropower supply, the Corps has 353 units installed at 75 reservoirs. The units provide a total generating capacity of about 21,000 megawatts, enough to power 10 million homes or 10 Seattles, according to the agency.

Overall, the Corps owns and operates the hydropower plant at the Stockton Dam 694 dams. A good number of these facilities in Missouri. A massive, car-sized turbine stand as prime locations for adding hydroblade cracked in 2009, taking the unit offline power capacity. for a year. Necessary replacement of the The Corps says lacks funding and whole turbine runner blade, which is the manpower to pursue new hydropower component where the force of flowing water projects, however. Instead, it has its hands turns a generator, wrapped up last year. full maintaining an old fleet of hydropower On top of fix-its such as these, the Corps units, the average age of which is reforming how it goes about is around 49 years, out of a attracting new hydropower projected lifespan of 35 to 50 production projects from the years. private sector. The Corps’ “We have some challenges “We’re struggling to take hydropower for sure,” said Kamau Sadiki, care of what we have already,” alone saves the national hydropower busiSadiki said. “So our policy ness line manager at the Corps’ is to highly encourage nonheadquarters in Washington. federal development to add “We’re still the largest renewhydropower to our ownedable energy producer in the and-operated dams.” MILLION country, but right now our The potential in this arena is metric tons performance level is not where vast. A 2012 report prepared of carbon we want it to be.” by Oak Ridge National dioxideThe Corps’ goal is to have Laboratory in Tennessee for equivalent no more than 2 percent of its the Department of Energy hydropower units offline for found that out of the top 100 emissions mechanical or other failures. candidate dams nationwide for per year. That target has not been met hydropower development, 81 since 1999, and in recent years, are Corps-owned facilities. forced outages have run at “That’s why we have such approximately 4.5 percent, great interest in the Corps,” Sadiki said. said Linda Church Ciocci, executive director To address this shortfall, as well as the of the National Hydropower Association Corps’ primary mission of preserving dam (NHA), a trade group. “Their facilities really safety, the agency has sought dedicated are the low-hanging fruit for us to build funding for major rehabilitation and dam upon and bring new power online.” modernization programs. Many of the Corps’ lock and dam facilities For instance, $40.7 million from the that look ripe for development are located American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama and of 2009 — often called the “stimulus” — helped pay for the recent refurbishment of CO N T I N U E D

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Construction is underway at the 1.2-mile-long Red Rock Dam in Iowa for a new 34-megawatt hydropower facility — enough to energize about 18,000 homes.

USACE

Arkansas rivers and their tributaries. For its own regulatory requirements, the A follow-up assessment to the Oak Ridge Corps now accepts much of the developers’ report in 2013 by Sadiki and his colleagues paperwork submitted to and approved by estimated the amount of economically feasible FERC. “We’re working with FERC to reduce new hydropower at Corps sites duplication of efforts,” said Sadiki. at 2,818 megawatts — enough to Approval of hydropower power well over 2 million homes. projects could soon happen in as The Corps is working with its little as two years. The Corps federal partners, particularly The improving inter-agency comaintains the Federal Energy Regulatory ordination, along with a booming Commission (FERC), to streamline renewable energy marketplace, approval processes for developers seems to be paying off by enticing who want in on this ample energy developers. Besides Red Rock of the U.S. supply. Dam, MRES is considering three hydropower For the last three decades, other projects at Corps sites on the supply, with developers have had to endure a Des Moines and Mississippi rivers. lengthy application submission Jim Bartek, who works for the 353 units at process, including environmental Corps’ Rock Island District on 75 reservoirs assessments and other studies, Red Rock Dam as a liaison with generating for both FERC and the Corps. FERC and MRES, has noticed the Obtaining a license to build often uptick. “I started in this capacity took six to eight years, increasing around the late ’80s, and yeah, megawatts. costs and delaying potential I have seen increased interest returns for wary investors. “That and activity in recent years,” really frustrated developers,” said Bartek. “There’s been a real admitted Sadiki. push.” Recognizing these issues, last year the Corps The push is understandable, given hydrobegan streamlining its Section 408 processes, power’s “tremendous benefits,” noted Sadiki. so named for a section of the Rivers and The Corps’ hydropower alone — about 3 Harbors Act of 1899. The law requires approval percent of America’s total energy use — saves from the Corps on any modifications made to 40.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxidecongressionally authorized Corps projects. equivalent emissions per year.

24%

21,000

Hydropower is quite reliable, too. The energy generated by falling water has been harnessed to generate electricity since the 1880s. “Hydropower is the granddaddy for renewable energy sources,” said Sadiki. “It’s been around a long time, and it’s going to be around hopefully for a long time in the future.” The future of hydropower does look assured because it can provide electricity around the clock at predictable levels, barring severe droughts. That’s in contrast to intermittent renewables such as solar and wind that need daylight or breezes, respectively. “Hydropower can fill in the gap from those sources,” said Sadiki. As it opens its doors to more hydropower, the Corps is also keeping an eye on environmental stewardship. Water quality at dams, for instance, will be upheld. “The Corps has a policy,” Sadiki said, “that we will typically not look favorably on a (hydropower) project that will degrade water quality, even if it still meets standards,” which are set by individual states. All in all, Corps hydropower appears ready for a renaissance. “From a policy perspective, hydropower (at Corps facilities) makes a lot of sense,” said the NHA’s Church Ciocci. “It’s a win-win for clean energy and the wise use of federal infrastructure for the consumer and the environment.”


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The Cliff Dwellings in the Puye National Historical Site in New Mexico were home to the ancestors of today’s Santa Clara Pueblo people.

PRESERVING HISTORY Corps at forefront of efforts to help Native Americans By Lambeth Hochwald

T

HE U.S. ARMY CORPS of Engineers (USACE) has come a long way in righting past wrongs against Native Americans, making good on federal promises to fix environmental damage to their lands and restore or repatriate artifacts and graves from places tribes were forced to leave. “We’re upholding our trust responsibilities,” said Lisa Morales, senior tribal liaison for the USACE. “It’s very important for us to acknowledge that each tribe has its own culture. Our goal is to protect their cultural and natural resources at all times.” Morales, a 20-year Corps veteran based in Washington, oversees a major nationwide effort; there are 80 tribal liaisons across the country who tend to the myriad needs of the 566 federally recognized tribes. The agency has focused on going back to certain key sites to fix some of the problems created by other government agencies in terms of environmental impact and restoration of artifacts. “We built dams on Native American land, destroyed religious sites and displaced communities,” said Ronald Kneebone, the tribal liaison for the Albuquerque region. “We’re now going back and correcting some of the things we did. You see that on the Rio Grande, in the Everglades and in the dams on the Columbia River in the Northwest.” For example, there is much more contact and consultation about water resources, said USACE spokesman Gene Pawlik.

GARY CRAIG

Efforts continue to improve ties in relationships that began with Clinton administration executive orders in the early 1990s. “A lot of what the Corps does is behind the scenes,” Pawlik said. “There are meetings, negotiations, and we have projects that are authorized that we do for the tribes. Especially on reservations, a lot of that isn’t highly visible work. We take a lot of pride in working with the tribes and having an improving relationship with the tribal leaders.” Morales pointed to the Corps work in the southeast. “We have resident tribes that were removed from their original lands,” she said. “We do a lot of work with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) because of this. So, if human remains are located on a Corps project or site — something we find a lot of in the eastern United States, too — we work to repatriate them to the tribes.” All while staying in tune with the tribe’s culture. “Our goal is always to work with the tribe and help repatriate those human remains so the ancestors can continue their journey,” Morales said. “That part can be challenging. It depends on what was found and what was found with it.” J. Michael Chavarria, governor of the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, lauded the Corps’ efforts on his tribe’s behalf. “Santa Clara Pueblo has had a good working relationship with CO N T I N U E D


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EXECUTIVE ORDERS NOV. 6, 2000: President Clinton signed Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments (65 Federal Register 67249), which requires all federal agencies to formulate “an accountable process to endure meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications.”

“We’re upholding our trust responsibilities. It’s very important for us to acknowledge that each tribe has its own culture. Our goal is to protect their cultural and natural resources at all times.” — Lisa Morales, senior tribal liaison for the USACE

NOV. 5, 2009: Declaring “the United States has a unique legal and political relationship with Indian tribal governments,” President Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of all federal agencies titled Tribal Consultation (74 Federal Register 57881) reaffirming Executive Order 13175’s call for regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials.

JUNE 26, 2013: In order to promote and sustain prosperous and resilient Native American tribal governments, Obama signed Executive Order 13647, establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs (78 Federal Register 39539). The secretary of the Interior is the chair of the council that includes the heads of executive departments, agencies and offices.

YEARLY: The White House Tribal Nations Conference is held annually, typically in the latter part of the year. Leaders from the 566 federally recognized Native nations engage with the president, Cabinet officials and the White House Council on Native American Affairs on key issues as part of the government’s commitment to the tribes.

RONNIE SCHELBY/USACE

South Pacific Division Commander Brig. Gen. Mark Toy, left, is briefed on persistent flood issues by Michael Chavarria, center, the governor of the Santa Clara Pueblo, in July during a visit to the Albuquerque District.

BOUNCING BACK FROM DISASTER IN NEW MEXICO

USACE

This ceramic dog effigy was recovered from USACE Mobile District property in the Chattahoochee River Valley. It is currently on loan from the Mobile District to the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Ga., and can be seen at the museum’s Chattahoochee Legacy Gallery. the USACE,” Chavarria said, citing assistance after devastating fires in the creek watershed area four years ago. “Our relationship continues to strength(en). “As a Native American tribe we utilize our lands and natural resources to continue to practice our religion, traditional and cultural activities. Everything revolves around our Tewa language, which holds our core values together,” he said. “Our cathedral, our spiritual sanctuary, grocery store, our pharmacy and biology classroom all were impacted by the 2011 Las Conchas fire and post-fire impacts. All these were taken into account to put the various plans together in our working relationship with the USACE.” Treaty rights also come into play. In the Pacific Northwest, USACE works closely with the Puget

Sound tribes on treaty rights in key fishing areas. In addition, most river sites in the U.S. include important or sacred sites that need to be handled with care and respect. “Again, we do have challenges there in terms of fishing and housing, but we’re addressing them,” Morales said. Pawlik also noted that the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference brings together tribal leaders and President Obama and other top government officials, usually in the late fall. “Native Americans have touched every place a Corps project exists,” Morales said. “We have the responsibility to uphold our obligation to all tribes. It’s exciting to honor that tribal sovereignty of each nation and to meet with representatives informally and through government consultation.”

The USACE Albuquerque Tribal District is busy managing projects with the Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico that began after the Cerro Grande fire in May 2000 swept across 47,000 acres, including the Santa Clara and San Ildefonso Indian reservations. “We’ve had several big wildfires here over the past five years,” said Ronald Kneebone, tribal liaison and outreach USACE coordinator. “As a Ronald Kneebone is result, the habitat the tribal liaison for the USACE Albuquerque and environment District. has changed so that areas that hadn’t been subjected to flood risk before are now subject to severe flooding.” The team also is working intently with seven tribes on key watershed studies. “One of the big areas we assist tribes with is through our Habitat and Ecosystem restoration program,” said Kneebone, an archeologist. “You’re improving quality of life, and the tribes become more involved with restoration efforts. This expands and improves their communication both within the tribe and the outside world. It’s also done a lot to elevate the visibility of ecological issues.” Seeing projects get underway helps make this the best job Kneebone said he has ever had. “Native Americans are some of the most underserved communities in the nation,” he said. — Lambeth Hochwald


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STEM CAREERS

USACE

More women are leading the way in USACE. Meet, clockwise from top left, Lisa A. Chan, senior quality manager at the Pacific Ocean Division in Fort Shafter in Honolulu; Pat Hemphill, district deputy for programs and project management in the Vicksburg District in Mississippi, and Margie McGill, a project manager in Walla Walla, Wash.


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STEM CAREERS

WOMAN POWER What does it take to make it as a female in STEM fields?

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

T

O SUCCEED AS A black woman in a field dominated by white men, Pat Hemphill needed faith and fortitude — and the confidence to overcome stumbling blocks. Now district deputy for programs and project management in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg, Miss., District, Hemphill remembers encountering those blocks early in her career. In fact, her first survey lab field class in college introduced her to biases about women in science and math courses. Her male classmates told her to just take notes; they would figure out the answers. “No, that’s not happening,” she told them. “I need to know how to do this.” Since then, she’s gotten plenty of practice at calmly asserting herself without getting emotional so she can achieve the goals she’s set in her career. “You’re always having to prove yourself, that you’re there because of what you know, because you earned it, not because you’re a token,” Hemphill said. Nationally, women earn 38 of 100 degrees awarded in a scientific, technical, engineering or math field (commonly referred to as STEM). But in the Corps, only 22 of every 100 STEM professionals are women — a gap USACE leaders aim to close. “Diversity is our strength,” said Sue Engelhardt, director of human resources. “The Corps is working hard. We’ve come a long ways already. We have to increase the applicant pool.” For anyone building a career at USACE, skills in science, technology, engineering and math are

absolutely necessary. But it’s often the intangibles that lead to the greatest success for both men and women: the ability to network and cultivate mentors, knowing how to be assertive and collaborative. “The fact that you are a minority in a very male-dominated business, how you look and what you wear and what you say is going to be interpreted differently,” said Margie McGill, a project manager for USACE in Walla Walla, Wash. “We need to speak with a strong voice and use the right words and wear the right clothes.” Even as young women prevail in school over the preconceptions of peers and professors, they run the risk of developing a tough shell and finding it difficult to work with others. “You can be super-competitive and win every job, but after a while nobody is going to want you back. It’s those relationships you’ve built that are really going to help you be successful,” McGill said. “That’s a very important social skill, to not talk over (men) or railroad them or prove to them you’re the best person. Part of doing a great job is listening.” McGill’s relationships proved vital when she was in one new position and inherited a $500 million water resource project that had been underway for six years. Despite her best efforts, the project turned out to be unworkable. “That was the time I realized I can be capable of doing anything, and there are still going to be things I’m not able to do. That moment is very pivotal,” she said. “I had to be the one to come in and say, ‘I’ve got some really bad news.’ It was a very hard place to be in, but when you come at it from the

right position — I had done all the Hemphill needed a nudge from a research to say, ‘Here’s where we’re mentor to enroll in an executive at, and here’s what it would take education program at Harvard to get this done’ — and thankfully I University, which presented itself had a level of respect as she was dealing with personal already … I was surrounded by responsibilities. people who said, ‘It’s OK, it was “It was a pivotal decision about impossible.’” whether I was going to continue Moreover, relationships are the on the techie field or continue into cornerstone of mentorship and the management. That was a huge sponsorship, commitment,” which are key to a she said. Withwoman’s ability to out the mentor’s climb the career urging, “I “Diversity is our ladder in a STEM would’ve taken strength. … field. the easy road. A mentor from But I chose to do We’ve come her time in the that (program) private sector and the rest is a long ways coached Lisa A. history.” already. We have Chan, senior qualHemphill ity manager at attributes her to increase the the USACE Pacific success to focus: applicant pool.” Ocean Division setting a goal, in Fort Shafter developing a — Sue Engelhardt, in Honolulu, path to achieve USACE human resources through her first it, setting time firing an intermediate employee. “He milestones said, ‘Practice.’ I still do that today,” and then identifying places to Chan said. “Any time you have to celebrate an achievement. “Don’t deliver a difficult message, you ever underestimate the power of have to practice. Whether perforstopping, exhaling and getting back mance reviews or a presentation in on track,” she said. front of a tough crowd, the practice The Corps actively recruits makes it more comfortable and women at job fairs and colleges more heartfelt.” across the country, aiming to fill Another mentor — a female the organization’s pipeline with engineer — has guided her since talented employees who will lead college. They connected in 1983 the organization in the future. at Chan’s college. “Being a local “You need diversity in the girl, she went to the University workforce — generational, of Hawaii, too; all those things females, minorities — to bring in made it very relatable,” Chan said. ideas. It’s important to move our “You need people in your life that organization forward, and we provide examples for you so it’s need those perspectives,” said relatable and it’s real, so you know Dawn Clappsy, human resources you can do it, too.” officer for USACE North Atlantic It’s also crucial to be open Division, based in Fort Hamilton to unexpected opportunities. in Brooklyn, N.Y.


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STEM CAREERS

GIRL POWER By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

I

Young women hear from project manager Lisa Baron in Elizabeth, N.J., top. Students at the James Island Christian School look at the shell of a loggerhead sea turtle while learning about beach renourishment, middle. Outreach takes place at high schools nationwide, bottom. PHOTOS BY USACE

N THE CHARLESTON DISTRICT in South Carolina, you might find the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fishing, reading blueprints or touring a powerhouse and dam with local students. It’s all part of USACE’s outreach to encourage children, especially girls, to pursue careers in a scientific, technical, engineering or math-related (STEM) field. “We look forward to one day these kids coming to work for us, because that’s our future workforce,” said Glenn Jeffries, corporate communications chief of the Charleston District. “Engineering is definitely a need. We’d love to have more women,” and other qualified candidates who “want to come and build for our nation.” Under a partnership with Ashley Hall, an all-girls private school in Charleston, USACE organizes several events each year. At the St. Stephen Powerhouse and Dam fish lift, which sees 750,000 fish pass through annually, the girls fish for American shad, blueback herring and catfish with a dozen-plus veterans wounded in war. They measure and study the fish, taking scale samples, and finish off the outing with a picnic lunch. The district’s planning chief or a female project manager might also visit the school to talk about another project to deepen Charleston Harbor. The events help the girls see the work of the Corps “as something you can put your hands on,” said Jeffries. “Taking a scale off a fish or going to a dredge is so much cooler than reading about it.”

Inspiring students to pursue STEM

The Corps also reaches out to “We’re approaching this as a a poor, rural community in St. full-court press at K-12 schools, Stephen through a partnership colleges and universities,” with Timberland High School. Clappsy said. Students learn about safety and uThe U.S. Army Engineering blueprint reading from USACE and Support Center in Huntsengineers and about business ville, Ala., organizes events such etiquette for job interviews. as Kite Day, where engineers fly The advice and exposure to kites with local girls and explain professionals are invaluable. aerodynamics. Since Oct. 1, the “Role models are so important,” center’s outreach has touched Jeffries said. 2,700 students, USACE has said Jo Anita also launched a Miley, public six-week STEM affairs specialist. “Taking a scale program aligned “The hands-on off a fish or with the grade 7 activities have science curmade the most going to a riculum through impact.” dredge is so the Department Architects of Defense have also much cooler Education helped children than reading Activity, which draw in three runs schools on dimensions, about it.” military facilities and interior — Glenn Jeffries, worldwide, said designers have USACE Charleston Sue Engelhardt, discussed how the Corps’ an interest in director of hufashion, color man resources. and materials Corps volunteers spend one can translate into a STEM to two hours each week in career. the classroom, explaining the “We try to encourage the engineering behind structures girls to pursue careers as that enables them to withstand military officers,” Miley said, the forces of nature. even if it means dressing up a Engelhardt noted that project manager as the cartoon “there’s still gender bias. We recharacter Bob the Builder. ally do think it’s about building High school students those role models.” also shadow engineers and Elsewhere, USACE is reaching scientists. “They’ll get a chance out in other ways: to see us fire at a wall and (see) uIn the North Atlantic how the technology we use Division, USACE sends engiwill save lives,” she said. neers to a variety of events “What most professionals — from national recruitment don’t realize is the students fairs to Girl Scout meetings don’t really need to know all — all with a goal of inspiring the technical things.” Miley future female Corps members, added. “If you can engage according to Dawn Clappsy, the them in the passion you have division’s Brooklyn, N.Y.-based for your career, that’s the human resources officer. important thing.”


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CORE LEADERS

Meet five employees who stand out in their fields

By Hollie Deese

These U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees thrive on the challenge of wearing many hats while finding innovative solutions that really make a difference.

SCOTT WHITNEY MISSISSIPPI VALLEY DIVISION Regional flood risk manager 17 years with USACE

USACE

Scott Whitney keeps an eye on flood risk in the Mississippi Division, having learned firsthand what damage can be done to communities.

HAVING GROWN UP ALONG the Mississippi River, Scott Whitney, 49, knows the devastation that can come with more than a few inches of rain. And as a part-time farmer, he depends on the levee systems like everyone else in his community. All of which makes Whitney’s work very personal. Whitney earned his master’s degree in large river ecology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and started doing research on zebra mussels, an invasive species. But the Midwest’s Great Flood of 1993, in which damages totaled $15 billion and hundreds of levees failed, turned Whitney to work at the Corps. “Flooding is truly a shared responsibility, and after a major event like that, you have a real opportunity to

capture the lessons learned and start talking about what we do next,” he said. “What kind of resilience do we need to build into our community?” Whitney did recovery work after the 2008 flood, and then led a $2 billion project to repair and rebuild the Mississippi River and Tributaries System after the destructive floods of 2011. “We are an agency of action,” he said. “We are seeing (that) 10- to 15-inch rainfalls (are) extremely common now, and when you get that kind of rain you are going to see some significant flooding issues. If you don’t take those kind of actions you run the risk of seeing the devastation and rebuilding things could have forestalled,” he said.


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CORE LEADERS

LORI ARAKAWA PACIFIC OCEAN DIVISION Regional mechanical and sustainability engineer 10 years with USACE

LORI ARAKAWA, 53, IS a leading voice in sustainable building practices. After serving in the Navy, she joined the Corps and now oversees the USACE Energy Modeling Center of Expertise in Sustainability, which provides technical guidance on how to use commercially available energy modeling software to help achieve high-performance, sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. Arakawa is responsible for promoting the technology across the Corps. “Sustainability is such a dynamic field. It is constantly evolving and changing, and because everyone has a role in sustainability, it is really a

In the Jacksonville District, Jacqueline Keiser has the job of moving sand out of shipping channels and saving beaches from further erosion.

culture shift,” she said. “About 10 years ago it was kind of a novel thing, an afterthought, something new and not totally understood. Now, it is becoming a way of life.” Arakawa has oversight of four districts — Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and Korea — and is responsible for meeting the federal mandates for energy reduction and incorporating sustainability features in high-performance buildings. This daunting task is made easier by the Corps’ open channels of communication. “There is a lot of sharing that goes on, and teamwork,” she said of the USACE ranks.

USACE

JACQUELINE KEISER JACKSONVILLE DISTRICT Dredging program manager, director of the Regional Center of Expertise for Regional Sediment Management 17 years with USACE JACQUELINE KEISER, 40, GREW up in the Northeast and fondly remembers family vacations at the Jersey shore. Her love for the beach guided her to earn a master’s degree in coastal geology at the University of South Florida. And in June 1998, she started working as a geologist in Jacksonville. Now Keiser oversees the removal of sediment from shipping channels in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to ensure they are clear for commerce, and coordinates the replacement of sediment on nearby beaches to protect against storm damage. Keeping this sand in the ecosystem saves money, and works to protect the environment by mimicking natural sand flows. “It may not sound innovative, but it actually is,” she said. Florida’s economy — and many forms of wildlife — depend on beaches. In recent years, Keiser has dealt with more sediment as the Panama Canal has been widened and sea level changes and storms such as

Superstorm Sandy have impacted the coastline. “You have to be really adaptive,” she said. “One weather event can undo the work you have done for the last year or more. But that is the exciting thing about it. Because the beaches and navigation channels are constantly changing, I am able to see the impact of my work up close and personal ... I am doing things that are impacting people today.” And when she does it right, the general public doesn’t even notice. “People hear about how much money we spend to maintain a beach, and after a storm when the sand is gone they will say, ‘What a waste,’” she said. “What they don’t understand is that means the beach did exactly what it is supposed to do. We have engineered those beaches to preserve themselves and to protect the upland structures. When our beaches erode in a storm, that is perfect. That is the plan.”

USACE

From the Pacific Ocean Division, Lori Arakawa leads the way on sustainable building practices, sharing knowledge of changes in the field across the Corps.


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CORE LEADERS

RICH GIFALDI EUROPE DISTRICT Sustainable engineering program manager Nine years with USACE

USACE

As a master planner for USACE, Rumanda K. Young won the Lt. Gen. John W. Morris Civilian of the Year Award last year for developing cutting-edge tools.

AFTER SPENDING SIX YEARS on active duty in the Army as an Arabic linguist, Rich Gifaldi, 35, went to college to study engineering. A part-time job with the Corps during school turned into a full-time position after graduation. Its focus? Sustainability and hydraulic engineering. Gifaldi’s skills were put to good use in 2010 when the Corps launched a sustainability program in Germany. The native New Yorker moved overseas to assist with the program. He now works as the only certified energy manager in the Europe District, helping facilities throughout Europe and the Middle East work toward sustainability. “Maybe not all of the ideas are new to a typical design and construction project. It is just not as well-known or well-used in Europe as it has been in the states,” he

said. “And it is interesting because you will get a lot of different cultural interpretations of what the standards are.” In 2012, Gifaldi guided the LEED certification process of the 285,000-square-foot Gen. John Shalikashvili Mission Command Center, the Corps’ first certified LEED Silver project abroad. He also supported the LEED design of three U.S. Navy projects in Bahrain. One of the projects, a naval support facility, earned the first LEED certification for new construction in the country. “Sustainability ... impacts future generations,” Gifaldi said. “We are planning, designing, operating and constructing our facilities in an efficient manner, which in turn saves the taxpayer money and improves military security. And it is also just the right thing to do environmentally.”

RUMANDA K. YOUNG FORT WORTH DISTRICT Chief of the master planning section, energy development manager for the Southwestern Division 10 years with USACE RUMANDA K. YOUNG , 37, has seen many changes in the field of planning since she joined USACE a decade ago. “I have been able to see us grow and also change our mission, be flexible and learn new things and technologies and be innovators in energy and sustainability,” she said. “Since 2005 we have all these new federal mandates to be more energy efficient and more waterconservation-savvy, and to help the military meet those mandates while still having mission readiness. That’s the fun part.” Her district has become a leader in collaborating with other aspects of the Corps to develop cutting-edge technology and planning tools to meet the stringent federal energy requirements. “We are turning this into a userfriendly dashboard tool they can use

to make decisions,” Young said. “We are giving them the power to make decisions on their water and waste and energy and storm water.” Young’s work, which contributed to her receiving the Lt. Gen. John W. Morris Civilian of the Year Award in 2014, is being used in places as diverse as U.S. Army GarrisonHawaii, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “It is about balance,” she said. “We are moving away from sustainability and more toward resiliency when things change. How do we build installations and get our military ready to be resilient for whatever that change is: social change, energy change, economic change, whatever that is? How do we build that into our facilities and help them be flexible?”

USACE

Rich Gifaldi introduces Europeans and others to design and construction ideas from the U.S., which is not easy because of differing cultural interpretations.


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Zip lining provides a new way to experience a park: from the trees. Employee Deborah Robertson takes one of the opening rides this year on the Go Ape course at Blue Jay Point County Park near Falls Lake in North Carolina.

RECREATION

USA Building and maintaining the nation’s dams has its rewards By Stacey Freed

E

VERY SEASON THERE’S A reason to get outdoors, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has millions of acres to explore. Water recreation is the main attraction at most USACE sites, which generally include lakes and dams, but over the decades the Corps has expanded into hiking, cycling, climbing, camping and more. Here are six projects from across the country that offer these amenities (for more information and a

MATT ROYLANCE

look at all the possibilities, see corpslakes.us):

MONTANA

Libby Dam

This dam — situated within the 2.2-million-acre Kootenai National Forest, which is operated by the U. S. Forest Service — is an architectural treasure; CO N T I N U E D


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renowned Seattle modernist Paul Thiry was its consulting architect, and sculptor Albert Wein designed the decorative granite bas relief, the largest of its kind. Completed in 1972, the dam is made of enough concrete to build a two-lane highway from Montana to Washington, D.C. It stretches across the Kootenai River to create Lake Koocanusa, which protects against flooding and creates hydroelectric power. USACE manages a visitors center and a tour program that introduces visitors to the intricate inner workings of the dam. The recreation area includes places to watch wildlife (including bald eagles and osprey), picnic shelters, a boat ramp, camping areas, multi-use trails and a playground. It’s also home to the 18-hole Kooky Noosa disc golf course, which hosted the Professional Disc Golf Association’s 2013 Montana State Championships. Located in the wild northwest corner of the state, about 170 miles northeast of Spokane, Wash., and 80 miles south of the Canadian border, “Libby is just as beautiful as Glacier National Park, but without the crowds,” said park ranger Susan James.

MONTANA

Fort Peck Project

On the other side of Montana, 515 miles east, is the Fort Peck Project, which is prized because it’s not near any large population centers. (The closest city is Billings, Mont., 264 miles southwest.) The project boasts a 240,000-acre lake with 1,500 miles of shoreline, the third largest in the Corps’ inventory, and 19 recreation areas. Year-round, the fishing is unbeatable. “There’s walleyes, crappies, northern pike, lake trout, chinook salmon, freshwater drum, rainbow trout, burbot, catfish (and) smallmouth bass. You might catch anywhere from seven to nine different game-fish species in one day,” said Darin McMurry, USACE assistant operations project manager at Fort Peck. There are small fishing tournaments year-round, and

the larger Montana Governor’s Cup Walleye Tournament is held in July. In fall, the region around Fort Peck provides hunting for elk, deer, upland birds, waterfowl and antelope. The unique no-hunt Slippery Ann area for viewing elk in their natural habitat is about 55 miles southwest in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Fort Peck also has history and then some. The dam, one of the largest earth-filled dams in the world, was the first built in the upper Missouri River basin in the 1930s by the Public Works Administration, and was showcased on the very first cover of LIFE magazine in 1936. Well before that, dinosaurs roamed the area, and “two T. rexes were found on our project,” McMurry said. “Once completely restored, one of them will be featured at the Smithsonian’s new dinosaur hall (at the American Museum of Natural History, set to open in 2019) and the other is in the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, (Mont.),” about 385 miles southwest. Local dinosaur viewing options include exhibits at the Fort Peck Powerhouse and the Fort Peck Interpretive Center in the Russell wildlife refuge.

PENNSYLVANIA

Blue Marsh Lake

June 6 is the American Hiking Society’s annual National Trails Day, and if you’re anywhere near Blue Marsh Lake in southeastern Pennsylvania, the 30-mile trail around the lake is the place to be. Part of the 13,000-mile-plus National Recreation Trail system, the Blue Marsh Lake multi-use trail takes cyclists on a variety of surfaces from compact soil to abandoned road, and, while challenging, can accommodate novice riders. The nearby town of Reading also offers great road cycling. The Blue Marsh trail connects with the Berks County Parks and Recreation trail system, extending the range for cyclists, hikers and horseback riders — but if that’s not your thing, explore the trails via geocaching. According to chief ranger

PHOTOS BY USACE

Scott Sunderland, 40 local geocaches are registered with the park, including about 20 locations established through a partnership with the Tulpehocken Creek Valley Geo-Trail system. Geocaching is an international treasure-hunting game in which players get GPS coordinates online that help them discover caches, usually containing small trinkets. The fun is in the hunt. Blue Marsh Lake, dedicated in 1979 and maintained by the USACE, has 1,150 acres of lake surface, 38 miles of shoreline and a dam that provides flood control for part of the Schuylkill River Valley. Below the dam is a popular fly-fishing area, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission stocks pheasants for the fall hunting season. To help visitors learn about available activities, Sunderland said, the park will take part in National Get Outdoors Day on June 13.

NORTH CAROLINA

Falls Lake

What better way to experience a park than from the treetops? At Falls Lake, 30 minutes north of Raleigh, N.C., visitors CO N T I N U E D

Blue Marsh Lake in southeastern Pennsylvania has a 30-mile trail around it that features a variety of surfaces, from compact soil and grass to abandoned roads. The Fort Peck Project in eastern Montana, left, is near the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, where elk, deer and other animals roam. The remains of ancient dinosaurs have even been found and can be viewed at the Fort Peck Interpretive Center.


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The Great Salt Plains Lake is home to nearly 4,000 acres of crystals that began forming millions of years ago as seawater evaporated.

can take a zip line through the trees and challenge themselves to climb wobbly bridges and rope ladders. Set at Blue Jay Point County Park, part of the 38,000 acres of land and water at Falls Lake, the Go Ape treetop adventure course was developed by Wake County and Go Ape, a private company based in the United Kingdom. It opened earlier this year. Although the Corps owns the land, it relies on partnerships with the state of North Carolina and local municipalities for day-to-day lake operations. “We operate a little differently than other Corps sites (because we have so many partnerships),” said Dana Matics, chief ranger. The Corps runs the 34-year-old dam, but has responsibility for protecting the entire resource, and so was part of the discussions regarding the zip line. “The environmental impact is minimal, and Go Ape has done a great job of preserving the trees and not damaging the ecosystem,” Matics said. “We have amazing outdoor opportunities here, and (the zip line) is a good addition. It’s a way to keep up with growing trends.”

OKLAHOMA

Great Salt Plains Lake

While Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats has its speedway, the Great Salt Plains Lake 40 miles northwest of Enid, Okla., has its crystals. Formed several million years ago as seawater evaporated, the Oklahoma salt flats offer a unique destination, especially for rock hounds. About 140,000 people a year come to dig selenite crystals containing an unusual hourglass shape that is not found in crystals anywhere else in the world. The crystals are continually forming, and the park offers nearly 4,000 acres in which to dig between April and October. “We’ll never run out,” said Earl Groves, chief of op-

erations for the Corps’ Tulsa District. “They grow naturally, and in the fall, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (which is in charge of the salt plains and National Wildlife Refuge) will blade it all flat and open a new area the following spring, where there will be new crystals grown from the year before.” The crystals are found between seven inches and 2 feet below the surface and are relatively easy — although messy — to remove. Once pulled from the ground, the soft, fragile crystals dry and harden. “The kids have a phenomenal time,” Groves said. Near the salt flats is the USACE-run spillway and dam, a flood-control project completed in 1941. Although the shallow lake averages only about 4 feet deep, limiting boating and some fishing, it is still part of a unique wildlife refuge that is home to more than 250 species of birds, including the whooping crane, which takes up residence in the fall and winter.

CALIFORNIA

Lake Sonoma

What do you think of when you hear California wine country? Fish? No? You should. Nestled in the Sonoma County foothills, Lake Sonoma offers visitors 2,700 acres of water for boating, swimming and fishing and 50 miles of shoreline for hiking and camping, 100 miles north of San Francisco. The lake is the result of the 1983 construction of Warm Springs Dam to reduce flood risk on the Russian River Valley and provide water to about 600,000 residents. And then there are the fish. Built below the dam and operated by the California Department of Fish & Game, the Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery is home base for chinook and coho salmon as well as steelhead trout, according to J.D.

PHOTOS BY USACE

Hardesty, chief of public affairs for USACE’s San Francisco District. “The hatchery is connected to the lake, and the fish swim out to the Pacific Ocean,” Hardesty said. It includes a fish ladder demonstration project that enables visitors to view fish during the spawning season. The hatchery is part of a larger “biological opinion,” a federal blueprint for plans to protect endangered fish and restore six miles of the Dry Creek habitat. Local wineries have given up land to help build this. “The hatchery process is so successful ... that (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s) National Marine Fisheries Service named it the blueprint Habitat for Success,” now termed a Habitat Focus Area, Hardesty said. The hatchery even gives fish to a school in Petaluma that raises and releases them “so students can get a hands-on science experience.” Next time you pair your grilled salmon with a good pinot, raise a toast to Lake Sonoma. Or better yet, go for a visit.

Lake Sonoma in northern California offers 2,700 acres of water for boating, swimming and fishing, plus a unique hatchery for chinook and coho salmon.


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BIG TOYS

The USACE has plenty of things in its tool box

Massive gate lifter Paul Bunyan, left, helps control Lake Superior waters; the MOTIV inspection vehicle, below, is at work at the Warm Springs Dam in northern California.

PHOTOS BY USACE

By Diana Lambdin Meyer

T

HE U.S. ARMY CORPS of Engineers is in the unique position of being the caretakers of what could be the world’s biggest toy box with some of the most unusual and amazing items ever. And the cool thing about being an organization of engineers — if the right tool is not available, you just make your own. Problem solved. Here are two examples of what the engineers have constructed to get the tough jobs done: The Soo Locks in northern Michigan have the amazingly hard job of managing the St. Mary’s River, which

flows from Lake Superior, a body of water big enough that some experts refer to it as a “fresh-water ocean.” Each fall, the engineers call on Paul Bunyan, their gate lifter named for the legendary Hercules of the woods. At 150 feet long and 65 feet wide, Paul Bunyan can lift all sorts of things, but the tough job is to hoist into place 43 tons of stop logs to hold back Lake Superior waters and drain the locks before the winter freeze sets in. In the spring, Paul Bunyan lifts the logs out of place and the shipping channel opens once again. Just north of San Francisco, USACE is responsible for conditions at the Warm Springs Dam, which requires regular inspections of the 2,400-foot-

long concrete tunnel under it. It’s a slippery, slimy place filled with moss, debris and other ooze. Walking by foot takes inspectors the better part of a day, plus they risk injury from falls. So USACE designed the Motorized Outlet Tunnel Inspection Vehicle, or MOTIV, which has slanted wheels to drive on the sides of the tunnel above the water. By using this battery-powered Mad Max-like device, engineers don’t disrupt water flow into Dry Creek, a spawning ground for coho and chinook salmon, and they get the job done in about half the time without risk to life and limb. Plus, MOTIV can carry heavier, stronger lights that allow for a more thorough inspection.


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