Minot AFB faces encroachment challenges

A team from Marstel Day, an environmental conservation company, is in Minot this week to interview community leaders for a study on how the area’s rapid growth is impacting Minot Air Force Base while preserving the military capabilities of the base’s mission.

Harry Zimmerman, senior consultant with Marstel Day from Springfield, Va., said the company is contracted by Headquarters Air Force to complete the installation complex plan called ICEMAP Installation Complex Encroachment Management Action Plan.

“The Air Force has decided from a a corporate enterprise approach to really look for ways to protect the mission capabilities of the installations,” Zimmerman said.

He said one of the facts is the best places for the military to train also often are the same places for wind energy, solar, geothermal and shale gas.

In North Dakota, he said there is “a little bit of pressure” from wind turbines.

He said he doesn’t think the Air Force has felt the impact yet of the possible conflicts with oil and gas because that hasn’t been fully developed in the state.

Zimmerman said ICEMAP was devised and does an analysis of what an installation does, where they do it all their training, etc. what problems they see and what problems they foresee in the future while they’re doing their mission.

“They take all of that and look at it through the lens of 13 categories that could possibly impact how they accomplish the mission,” he said.

He said the categories include everything from the classic noise and safety issues that most people around military bases are familiar with to air and water sustainability for the long term, along with other challenge areas.

He said those are applied to the mission capabilities at all the locations where that occurs and then an analysis is done. He said an analysis is done to find areas where there is potential for incompatibilities.

“It’s all about finding compatibility ways to promote compatible development in the community and to also preserve the military mission,” Zimmerman said.

Jaclyn Sarnowski, a planner with Marstel Day from Oceanside, Calif., is part of the team in Minot this week.

The team will be interviewing local community leaders about Minot AFB and their ideas for going forward, Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the entire study takes about nine to 11 months to complete. It will result in a three-volume set of documents detailed information but also includes a brochure that highlights what the base does and its presence in the community, the good things and mutual successes, areas where there’s opportunity to work on issues that could be a challenge going forward, Zimmerman said. He said the brochure is expected to be released in the late fall timeframe.