: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Community
Browse Community Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Civilian Spotlight – Larry Soenen

Date Posted: 2004-06-10

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan — As the only U.S. Forest Service soil specialist in Okinawa, an innovative, green-thumbed scientist digs deep to provide solutions to tropical soil erosion.

Larry Soenen, a soil scientist assigned to the Marine Corps Base Facilities Engineers Environmental Branch, uses science to educate people about effective land management to sustain Marine Corps training areas.

Soenen’s work ensures Marines can keep blasting rounds down range with minimal impact to the environment of this pacific island paradise by identifying potentially damaging practices and providing solutions.

“He’s always willing to go the extra mile by teaching us, as an office, to identify potential environmental problems,” Environmental Branch assistant environmental coordinator Paul Newman said of his colleague Soenen.

After earning his bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Soenen worked as a soil scientist for a year before taking to the sky as a UH-1 helicopter pilot in the Army, where he first became acquainted with Okinawa while on an 18-month tour.

“I had an agricultural background growing up in Marshal, Minn., which is a farming community, and I thought the University of Hawaii at Manoa was a pretty interesting place to go to school,” Soenen said.

He then traded in his captain’s bars for a U.S. Forest Service uniform and headed back to the tropical soil roots of Hawaii. He worked there for 20 years. Afterward, he worked in California before returning to Okinawa more than two years ago.

“Marine Corps Base Facilities Engineers Environmental Branch recognized the need for more emphasis on land management in training areas and entered into an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to bring a specialist to Okinawa,” he said.

Soenen, a father of two, is introducing new technology to develop low-maintenance training roads, erosion control and fire resistant plants in live-fire impact areas.

“He has a lot of technical knowledge combined with field experience,” Environmental Branch assistant coordinator Yu Shimizu said. “He’s almost like having a human encyclopedia in the office who can also work out in the field, which is pretty rare.”

Soenen has installed fully-automated equipment to monitor any amount of soil deposited into the ocean from Marine Corps training areas.

“He’s gained a lot of respect from the Okinawan community through his work with red soil,” Shimizu said.

According to Soenen, red soil is a concern for the Marine Corps when it washes into streams and makes its way into the ocean, choking off the coral reefs and destroying the aquatic life that calls the reefs home.

Looking forward to retirement in four or five years, Soenen works closely with other environmental specialists to ensure his legacy is passed on.

Browse Community Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

JU FacebookOkistyleOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker