On one to two weekends each month, the Arizona Army National Guard conducts combat training at the Florence Military Reservation, located 1.5 miles north of the town of Florence. This training area is used primarily for live fire exercises, unit maneuvers, simulated engagements and small arms training.
In preparing for the training exercises, personnel and equipment organize at the Equipment Staging Area, located south of Florence Gardens. Some of the equipment used includes tracked vehicles, wheeled vehicles and helicopters. The helicopters take off from the helipad located at the southwest corner of the Equipment Staging Area. The vehicles access the training area by traveling along the Track Road to access the Main Supply Route located east of and parallel to U.S. Highway 79.
The soil at the Equipment Staging Area and along the Main Supply Route is fine grained, which historically has resulted in dust when subjected to vehicular movement or moderate wind.
Whitney Kirk, an environmental specialist at the National Guard said, “To help minimize the amount of dust from military operations, we evaluated various dust suppressant products to determine what might work best in this environment.” As a result of the study, Soil-Sement® was selected Soil-Sement created a hard, water-resistant surface and was applied in the wash areas along the Main Supply Route as well as the unpaved area around the helipad at the Equipment Staging Area. Soil-Sement was applied by trucks specifically suited and calibrated for the application and are equipped with a spray bar close to the ground. It dried clear, but darken the soil slightly. Soil-Sement is safe to humans, animals, plant life and groundwater.
The Equipment Staging Area and Main Supply Route were treated with Soil-Sement. Both treatment areas were evaluated for one year to assess the long-term effectiveness of the dust suppression treatment.
The Arizona Army National Guard hosted a public open house at Florence Gardens Mobile Home Association Clubhouse to inform the local community about the plans to apply dust suppressants to the Mesa Staging Area and part of the Main Supply Route. The 34 people who attended were able to review displays, ask questions and offer oral and written comments. The displays included samples and boxes of native soil treated with Soil-Sement, as well as aerial views of the areas to be treated.
Most of the comments indicated support for the Arizona Army National Guard for being pro-active and taking measures to suppress the dust from military activities in the area. Some of the comments included “We are really excited about your concern for the dust problem” and “very good news on settling the dust”.