On the first day of autumn, Monday, Soldiers kicked off the Fall Post-wide Clean-up, week-long scrub of Fort Hood’s ranges and cantonment area, covering some 200,000 acres.
The Directorate of Public Works set up the consolidation point on the corner of Turkey Run Road and Clear Creek Road. There, garbage bins with a capacity to hold up to 20 tons were set up, and it is where approximately 250 Soldiers from 15 different units, started and ended each day of the operation.
Among the common items picked up during the clean-up operation were concertina wire, ammo rounds, broken furniture and worn mattresses.
Capt. Al Langford, chief game warden for Fort Hood Range Control has been working in law enforcement for the past 39 years. He said that if anyone is found dumping or littering on post, the minimum fine begins at $250.
“Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but some of it’s dumped by Soldiers, too,” he said. “There’s a lot of units that go out there to train and they put up concertina wire around their perimeters and when they finish their training, they pack up and leave. But guess what they leave out there? Concertina wire.”
Langford shared that by not having a bi-annual post-wide cleanup, many safety concerns would arise.
“The safety benefit,” the chief game warden said, “is getting that stuff out of there, so that when the natural resource folks, the fire department or emergency services – when we have to respond to an injured Soldier or something along those lines, ... we aren’t having to run across 50 feet of concertina wire and trash trying to get to the extraction point or wherever these folks may be.”
Langford said that the biggest clean-up concern is to protect the environment.
“We only have one earth,” Langford said. “So, if we don’t pick up all this trash, and keep all of this trash out of our areas ... it keeps it from polluting waterways, and our water source … and killing our wildlife.”
Jim Imhoff, engineering technician for DPW, pointed to a grid color-coordinated map and explained how each unit is responsible for a designated area, not just during the clean-up operation, but throughout the year.
More than 370 predesignated garbage points are marked on the map, indicating where clean-up is required.
“They have to take ownership of their area,” Imhoff said. “So, if you have ownership, you should have pride.”
Imhoff said that units also have designated housing areas for which they are responsible.
Command Sgt. Maj. Byron Larsen, the senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, oversaw this post-wide effort. He said all the money generated from recycling the tons of trash collected goes to pay for the Fort Hood fireworks show every Fourth of July.
Larsen said that once each unit believes their designated areas are clean, they report back to the consolidation point, where at that time, leaders go out to the area and inspect it.
“It cleans the training area to provide a safe and clean environment for our Soldiers to train in,” Larsen said. “Take pride and ownership of their installation.”