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Marines dig in to fight red soil runoff

Date Posted: 2004-04-15

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan — Marine Corps Base Butler’s Environmental Branch is continuing efforts to control red soil run-off by presenting Marines from 9th Engineer Support Battalion and 3rd Transportation Support Battalion of 3rd Force Service Support Group with a Low Volume Road Construction and Maintenance Course March 15-18.

The course gave Marine heavy equipment operators, who maintain the dirt roads connecting the many ranges of the Central Training Area, improved methods to construct and maintain roads, reducing the erosion that occurs when ground is broken.

The Marines used MC1150E tractors and 130G graders provided by 9th ESB to give the roads more of a gradual transition in grade and put in slightly raised mounds called rolling dips to direct water off the road in designated places where it can soak into the vegetation-covered ground.

“They’re constructing the rolling dips to displace the water from the road so it won’ pick up speed. When the water picks up speed it washes the soil away and can cause the roads to become undercut,” said Sgt. Shawn M. Williams, environmental protection assistant and environmental compliance inspector, MCB, Environmental Branch.

The real problem occurs when the soil gets washed into the ocean where it can settle on the coral and eventually kill it added Williams. The carefully selected placement of the rolling dips on these roads keeps the water flowing cleanly so it doesn’t carry the soil with it to the ocean.

Williams said the project is vital for the conservation of the coral life, but it also serves another important purpose.

“We are performing this maintenance at the CTA to make sure the roads will still be there in a couple of years,” Williams said. “We’re doing all of this not only to protect the environment, but also because we want to have the best relationship possible with the Okinawans.”

Last month, the Environmental Branch also conducted aerial hydro-seeding of Camp Hansen’s Central Training Area to reduce the red soil erosion in areas void of vegetation.

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