The Army has been known more for earth-scarring operations and huge gas-guzzling machines than for eco-friendly green technology.
But with Fort Carson busy acquiring open space, installing solar panels and water-thrifty irrigation sensors, and promoting Dr. Seuss' environmental fable The Lorax in area schools, that image may be changing.
The base south of Colorado Springs is one of 14 Army installations taking part in a nationwide program to reduce energy costs and to network locally in order to sustain the military's "triple bottom line" of mission, environment and community.
"The job of Fort Carson is to train troops," says Mary Barber, deputy director of the base's Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management. "To do that we need to sustain our post long into the future,"
The base has teamed with environmentalists to acquire more than 50,000 acres on its southern border as a prairie preserve that also will function as a buffer to sprawl. Meanwhile, it will consume 45 percent less water this year than it did in 2001, and 28 percent of the base's energy purchases will fund renewable energy programs across the West.
Green-architecture buildings are sprouting across the base, and alternative fuel vehicles now make up almost half of the base's transportation fleet.
On the training field, stealthy, energy-efficient operations are being designed. "Leave no trace" is an apt motto, Barber says. Rutted earth and chemical spills threaten troop health and give enemy forces dangerous clues as to troop movements, she says.
Fort Carson soon may become a prototype for America's global military operations, including 350 major installations and 36 million acres under the Pentagon's domain, says Christopher Juniper, vice president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, an environmental contractor hired by the base.
-- Dan Wilcock