ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JULIE ANDERSON
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
?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
What the corps office at the reservoir does with water control affects
many others because of the state?s interconnected system of streams
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,?
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
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JULIE ANDERSON