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What is ACUB?

In 2001 the National Guard Bureau initiated a project to address the growing concern of development and encroachment around the perimeter of Camp Ripley. In 2004 the National Guard Bureau and the State of Minnesota, acting through the Board of Soil and Water Resources entered in to a Cooperative Agreement to implement an Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program for Camp Ripley.

The program is designed to minimize intensive residential and commercial development within a 3-mile radius around Camp Ripley by purchasing the development rights through permanent conservation easements. Landowners are paid a per acre sum to agree to leave the land open. They retain the right to use the property as they are presently, but agreeing to not plat or develop the land with more residential or commercial building sites.  Farming, hunting, and normal agricultural activities may continue. The program is for willing landowners only.

Morrison SWCD is working in conjunction with Camp Ripley Training Center (CRTC) and Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR) in executing conservation easements for the ACUB Program.

Landowners interested in participating in the program complete and submit to the SWCD a Landowner Interest Form. The Landowner Interest Form is submitted for Camp Ripley for ranking.

Each year CRTC, through a prioritization process, identifies and ranks parcels of land to be considered for possible funding for the ACUB Program.

A “Short List” of ranked landowners is developed and provided to the SWCD. The SWCD approaches landowners identified on the “Short List” for possible participation in the program as funding becomes available.

Land owner applications are received by the SWCD’s and sent to BWSR. BWSR requests funds.

Once easements are completed, SWCD’s monitor enrolled lands to ensure they meet the intent of the easement encumbered. The easement is perpetual.


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Still going strong after 9 years!  Camp Ripley was fortunate to be funded well this year with 2.833 million dollars from the Dept. of Defense and the National Guard Bureau.  Funding each year has varied with 2012 being was of the least years, and now 2013 funded at the second highest level.

The ACUB program began in 2004 with partners DNR and The Nature Conservancy. DNR specializes is the fee acquisition properties, but many landowners expressed an interest in easements instead.  The Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District requested the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources to meet with Camp Ripley personal to see if it would be a fit, since BWSR holds easements all over the state through Re-Invest in Minnesota.  Special legislation was required for BWSR to hold working lands easements and after being approved, BWSR signed on as a partner in 2006.  In 2010, Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council awarded some state funds (Clean Water Legacy funds) to further the effort.  While a little more restrictive, the overall goal remains the same.

Camp Ripley’s goal is to minimize development in a three mile buffer around the perimeter of Camp Ripley’s 53,000 acre compound.  Some military bases have experienced a reduction in their ability to train and support troops due to complaints on noise, odors, and smoke created by machinery and training weapons.  Camp Ripley was one of the first two military facilities to step forward for the ACUB program.  Now it competes with many bases around the country but has been the most successful in achieving the goal, in the entire nation.

Over 350 landowners have signed interest forms to enroll in the program as funding is available.  To date 88 easements have been conveyed with a few still in the process.  Nearly 13,000 acres are under easement and another 2-3,000 have been purchased by DNR. 

Properties are prioritized by Camp Ripley and the ranking is based on size of property, location, and how close it may be to another property already enrolled.  The closer, the larger, the higher the ranking. 

Environmentally, the state benefits by fewer septic systems and the reduction of land being converted from forests and/or agriculture to development.  The easements prohibit development but still allow for present use.  The green space will be forever the same in the future as it is today.   Properties enrolled along the Mississippi River and Crow Wing Rivers also lend to protecting water quality.  Keeping the lands as they are will of course continue to provide wildlife habitat as well.

Following are aerial photos of some of the beautiful lands with perpetual easements.

7121Crow Wing7005Eisel Nok





7001Eisel Twin

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For more information or to sign up as an interested landowner, the following contacts and numbers are available.

Morrison Soil and Water  Conservation District

Email:  Helen McLennan or Lance Chisholm

or call (320) 616-2479 x-117

Camp Ripley Contacts

Marty Skoglund or Jay Brezinka at (320) 632-616-2720


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BWSR ACUB Status as of 8/01/2016…

161 Land Deals – Under Easement

18,436.5 – Compensated (Complete)

256.0 Acres – Donated (Complete)

20 Land Deals – Ongoing  

1,890.4 Acres – Ongoing

12.3 Acres Donated – Ongoing

20,595.3 – Total Acres Completed/Donated/Ongoing



ACUB Accomplishment – Morrison SWCD and Crow Wing SWCD Enhance Wildlife Management Area


In 2011, MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), Morrison SWCD, Crow Wing SWCD, DNR, and Camp Ripley  announced that the BWSR received $843,000 in Lessard Outdoor Heritage Grant funds to purchase convey conservation  easements surrounding the State Nokasippi Wildlife Management Area and the Little Nokasippi Confluence. The Lessard Outdoor Heritage Funds were established through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (approved by voters in 2008).

The Little Nokasippi Confluence and the State Nokasippi Wildlife Management Area (click here to view map) are located in a critical area of Army Compatible Use Buffer Area (ACUB) which is 110,000 acres of land within 3-mile radius of Camp Ripley. The ACUB program maintains the separation of training noise, dust, and smoke from local residents, and also provides large tracts of protected habitat for water quality protection and wildlife. The Lessard Outdoor Heritage Grant funds are matched by Department of Defense funds though the National Guard Bureau allocated to BWSR for the specifically for the ACUB program. The grant and ACUB funds paid for closing costs, administrative fees, and the acquisition of permanent conservation easements.

Dan Steward, BWSR Board Conservation, states “This project will not only expanded an existing WMA by 252 acres for public outdoor recreation (e.g. hunting, fishing, etc.) but it will also protect the viability of the WMA into perpetuity through 634 acres of permanent conservation easements.”

Marty Skoglund Environmental Supervisor Department of Military Affairs “This is a great example of Federal, State, and Local Government Units working with landowners to protect the rural character of Central Minnesota and the bountiful natural resources of Crow Wing and Morrison Counties while protecting the mission of Camp Ripley.

UPDATE:  Having successfully fulfilled the Phase 1 Nokasippi effort, Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage fund again awarded Phase 2 funds in 2012, and an additional Phase 3 funding of 1.45 million in 2013.  Phase 2 monies secured another 483.9 acres and Phase 3 is still underway with over half of the funding already committed.  These state funds help in leveraging the federal funding for the entire ACUB program.

If you are interested in more information regarding the ACUB Program contact Helen McLennan via email or (320) 616-2479 x-114.





CAMP RIPLEY, MN – The Commander’s Award for Public Service was presented to a Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District employee during the Army Compatible Use Buffer meeting at Camp Ripley, MN, August 24, 2011.

Helen McLennan, district manager for Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District, was presented with the award during the meeting.

“Helen has played an instrumental role in the implementation of our Army Compatible Use Buffer program,” said Jay Brezinka, Camp Ripley environmental supervisor.  “Ideas are great but implementation is key.  We found the key and the key in Helen McLennan.”

McLennan began working with the Camp Ripley team in 2005. “She has developed great relationships with the landowners, is always honest with everyone and has a ‘can do’ attitude,” said Brezinka.  “Most importantly landowners trust her.”

McLennan has been successful in implementing their portion of the program on Camp Ripley’s behalf and has worked over 70 parcel commitments, more than 10,000 acres.

The Commander’s Award for Public Service is the fourth highest award the Army can bestow upon a civilian.  It can only be given by a Commanding Officer in the rank of Colonel or higher.

The Army Compatible Use Buffer program itself is a joint effort between the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Board of Water and Soil Resources.  The program inevitably benefits Camp Ripley, but the DNR and BWSR function as an implementor and work with the land owners to place an easement on the property or in very limited amounts purchase the land out right.

“The intent of the program is to protect Camp Ripley from encroachment,” said Minnesota Army National Guard Lt. Col. Todd Kubista, Camp Ripley deputy post commander.  “It aids us in completing our mission of providing the resources for training and maintaining our positive community relations.”

ACUB Meeting

Jay Brezinka, Camp Ripley Environmental Supervisor, and Minnesota Army National Guard Lt. Col. Todd Kubista, Camp Ripley Deputy Post Commander, present the Commander’s Award for Public Service to Helen Mclennan on August 24, 2011, during the Army Compatible Use Buffer meeting at Camp Ripley.  McLennan, District Manager for Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District Little Falls, has played a vital role in the implementation of the ACUB program for Camp Ripley.  (Minnesota National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Kenneth R.)