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Fire it up

By Jay Townsend

(Left to Right) Elizabeth Anderson, Dylan Edwards, Roger Howell and Ty Fowler
(Left to Right) Elizabeth Anderson, Dylan Edwards, Roger Howell and Ty Fowler

On Jan 27, 2016 several rangers from the Mountain Home Project Office assisted a team from Bull Shoals White River State Park with a prescribed fire within the state park’s lease below Bull Shoals Dam.

Did you know fire can be good for people and the land? After many years of fire exclusion, an ecosystem that needs periodic fire becomes unhealthy. Trees are stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The right fire at the right place at the right time reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires.

Here are several other advantages of prescribed fires:

  • Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease
  • Removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem
  • Provides forage for game
  • Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species
  • Recycles nutrients back to the soil
  • Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants

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USACE Galveston District Spotlight on Hans Miller

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division announced USACE Galveston District Construction Control Representative Hans Miller as the recipient of the division’s 2015 Hard Hat of the Year Award, he was the only surprised person in the room. Believing it would take years to achieve this professional recognition, he underestimated the measurable impacts he made during the two years he was assigned to oversee projects along the Texas coast.

 

The annual prestigious award celebrates the year’s most outstanding USACE construction field office team member from four division offices across the USACE Southwestern Division.

 

“I am honored to have been nominated and selected for this award which signifies an excellent achievement,” said Miller. “To have the respect and appreciation from my compatriots is the most rewarding achievement I can attain.”

 

A Corps employee for six years, he assumed the roles of both quality assurance representative and construction project engineer on an $11 million Army Reserve Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility in Robstown, Texas, that was initially struggling to stay on time. Within weeks, Miller led the contractor from a path toward default to a successful completion of the construction and finished the project on time.

 

“Hans is an excellent example to his peers and continually steps up to ensure mission success,” said Andrew Smith, P.E., resident engineer of the Corpus Christi Resident Office. “One could not ask for a better representation of what it means to wear the white hard hat and be the ‘Corps Man’ on a job.”

 

Currently, Miller inspects placement areas to determine if levee work is required on the Matagorda and Corpus Christi Ship Channel projects.

 

Each year, the USACE Galveston District dredges approximately 30 to 40 million cubic yards of material from Texas channels to fulfill its mission of keeping waterways open for navigation and commerce (benefiting 28 ports handling 400 million tons of commerce annually). As part of the dredging process, the material collected is placed in approved disposal sites or used for other environmentally-acceptable purposes. The most common PAs are confined but other PAs include semi-confined, unconfined, and beneficial use sites for marsh restoration and beach nourishment.

 

A native of San Diego, California, Miller is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from the University of Virginia and has completed several quality management courses. During his free time, you can find him golfing or fishing at some of the best spots along the Texas coast.

 

For more news and information, visit http://www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, https://twitter.com/usacegalveston.