Corps of Engineers carries on a multitude of tasks

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? responsibilities range from serving

as the nation?s leading provider of water-based recreation to

engineering and building projects and helping with disasters.

The Corps of Engineers office at the Marion Reservoir is made up of a

park manager, three maintenance personnel and two park rangers, as

well as a support-services administrator.

Terry Holt, lake manager, said every day is different and he and his

coworkers never know what may come up during the day.

?There?s never, ever any routine,? Holt said.

The most obvious task of the Corps of Engineers is upkeep of the


With a 2 to 4 percent increase every year in the number of people

using the lake, the Corps of Engineers are always making improvements

and doing upkeep in the park.

?The reservoir attracts a large number of visitors,? Holt said. ?In

May, June or July, the population may equal that of Hillsboro.?

Some of the upcoming projects include regular maintenance, stabilizing

shorelines and expanding the boat ramp in Hillsboro Cove.

Holt said they also hope to finish adding electrical hookups at French

Creek Cove.

?We do need to add some campsites,? he said. ?We turn many people away

because we don?t have the facilities.?

Future projects would include an expansion area for Cottonwood Point.

?What it would take to satisfy the demand would be a significant

addition to lake facilities,? Holt said.

All of the projects are completed through federal funding.

Holt said plans for the lake are in constant renewal.

Park rangers, highly visible throughout the park, are responsible for

animal control and regulation of reckless boaters.

?The ranger during the season is a great problem-solver,? Holt said.

He said they see their job as providing visitor assistance.

The corps also plays a regulatory role. Federal rules and regulations

must be enforced, including rules on camping, swimming, sanitation,

control of animals and firearms.

The department also has a rescue patrol boat which has been used in

several crises over the years.

In addition to these duties, the corps also provides other services.

Day-to-day activities include flood control, recreation and water

quality and supply. The corps maintains the bowl and level of water in

the lake. If the water is above the conservation pool, they manage

water control.

What the corps office at the reservoir does with water control affects

many others because of the state?s interconnected system of streams

and rivers.

Flood control is a large part of the corps mandate. The corps is the

leading federal flood-damage reduction agency, as well as being a

world leader in flood damage reduction techniques.

Holt said they do building projects such as the Marion levy and have

designed the Wichita Valley Center Floodway and levies in Great Bend,

Dodge City and Florence.

The corps also provides technical expertise to help cities maintain

the projects and inspect flood projects.

?To date, there is an estimated $40 million saved in flood damage,?

Holt said.

In addition to floods, the corps helps in times of national


To be ready for an emergency, the corps participate in federal and

state disaster preparedness exercises.

During disaster, the corps provides emergency water and power

supplies, temporary public facilities and housing and technical


?Our agency is able to supply large amounts of man power in national

emergencies,? Holt said.

He said they provide damage survey reports, do quantity work for

debris cleanup and can put together a million-dollar contract in one

week to 10 days in an emergency.

?It?s quite a phenomenal thing,? he said.

The corps only gets involved when Federal Emergency Management Agency

calls them in, depending on their area of expertise.

?A lot of times, it is kind of on-the-job training,? Holt said. ?It

really requires many disciplines.?

Another area the corps works in is protecting the environment. In

their efforts to curb pollution and conserve natural resources, corps

engineers work to ensure the availability of land and water for future


They also care for natural resources such as wildlife, forests and

endangered species; manipulate water release schedules to improve

water; and provide natural resources such as waterfowl and special

status species habitats.

The corps follows the code of federal regulation, which Holt said has

changed significantly over the past 10 to 15 years.

The corps also is the largest organization in the country which does

construction and engineering.

One area of construction are the hydropower facilities.

The corps is listed as the fourth largest electrical utility in the

United States and the largest operator of hydropower.

?We?re one of the few agencies, I believe, that has a significant

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