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TRIES Developing Land Management System For Military Installations

In the brushy hills at the dead center of Texas, just west of Temple and north of Killeen, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and tanks have practiced war since Patton was a pup.

There on Fort Hood, along Cowhouse Creek and the northwestern shores of Belton Lake, is a perfect laboratory for a Sam Houston State University environmental protection project made possible by $4 million in funding announced this week by Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas.

"The bulk of the funding is planned to reach us via the Texas Army National Guard," said Michael Warnock, executive director of the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies (TRIES). "It will be used to support our efforts, primarily at Fort Hood, in development of a computer-based land management system for use on military installations."

The land management system will allow commanders and other land use planners to predict impacts of various types of training, maximizing the value of training while minimizing its negative effects on areas that must be used for future training.

"Such a program can reduce rotation times for training areas and potentially extend the useful life of the training area indefinitely," said Warnock. "The Texas National Guard is interested because they use Fort Hood as a training facility, and for the system's applicability to their other training sites. Our military facilities throughout the world will ultimately benefit from what we develop."

Another major portion of the funding will reach the TRIES scientists at SHSU from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It will be used to support further development of Web Image Analysis Remote Sensing (WIARS) software which was created at SHSU through a previous TRIES project.

WIARS software, developed by SHSU faculty members Pat Van Fleet and Jaimie Hebert, is designed to provide an interactive, World Wide Web-accessible system that a user can access through a standard Web browser, using basic computer hardware and skills.

"WIARS will be useful not only in terms of its technical capabilities, but also because of the experiences associated with making it Web accessible," said Van Fleet.

The remainder of the support will allow TRIES to assist the U. S. Army in development of electronic land management data sets for various military installations and training courses for the installations.

This assistance will allow the military to more easily access TRIES electronic land management data, make this data available for military use, and use SHSU distance learning strengths to provide the courses.

Bobby K. Marks, Sam Houston president, said that the funding represents an endorsement of TRIES accomplishments and capabilities.

"Over the past six years we have developed the infrastructure to perform outstanding environmental work through our TRIES labs," said Marks. "Congressman Turner wanted to see our labs and to satisfy himself about our ability to do the work before he was willing to work to get the $4 million in the federal budget. This will be work that the Department of Defense must have done for them anyway. Obviously Congressman Turner believes as we do that SHSU has the ability to do it very well."

Warnock said the land management system work will last for several years, but will not be the only projects underway at TRIES.

"The projects to be completed as a result of the funding secured by Congressman Turner will allow us to use and further develop our considerable capabilities for sustainable environmental management," said Warnock. "The development plan for the land management system extends over the next five years.

"As a result of the current initiatives, and planned participation in the effort, TRIES is well positioned to play an active role throughout this effort," he said. "While the new land management system projects will occupy a major part of the time of TRIES personnel, we are also involved in a diversity of other projects and this work opens additional doors for future projects."


Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
May 20, 1998
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