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Fort Harrison
Helena, MT

The Fort Harrison Training Support Center - Forward [TSC FWD] at FT Harrison provides Training Aids, Devices, Simulators, and Simulations to include MILES Gear to using units at FT Harrison, Limestone Hills, WACO (MT), and local training areas throughout Montana. The Fort Lewis Training Support Center supports all Western Region TSC customers located in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, California and Nevada. Customers include Active Army, US Army Reserve, Army National Guard and Army ROTC.

Fort Harrison is located approximately 3 miles west of Helena, Montana in an intermontane valley. This valley is 25 miles from north to south and 35 miles from east to west and averages about 4,000 feet elevation. The surrounding mountains range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet elevation. Fort Harrison occupies 2,154 acres, an additional 1,727 acres are leased, and an additional 3,580 acres are used with a land use permit. The VA Center is located directly south of Fort Harrison and is an independent Federal facility administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Fort Harrison is located adjacent to the city of Helena in Lewis and Clark County. Helena is a city of 35,000 people and nearly 53,000 people reside in Lewis and Clark County. The County's population growth during this decade has averaged 2.1 percent annually. There are 170 full-time employees at Fort Harrison and another 65 full-time employees at the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Helena Airport. This represents less than 1% of the County's employment. In addition, there are 350 MT ARNG members at Fort Harrison, and 250 members at the Army Aviation Support Facility. On a typical monthly drill weekend there are between 300 and 400 soldiers at Fort Harrison.

Land use within the Fort Harrison cantonment area consists of billeting, dining, latrine facilities, and site support operations, ranges for small arms qualifications, and a drop zone and a helicopter landing area. Land on the southern perimeter of Fort Harrison is occupied by the Veterans Administration. Land use to the east, west, and north of Fort Harrison consists of scattered farms, and residences, grazing land and hilly mountainous terrain.

The Helena Valley has a semiarid climate that is characterized by hot summers (typical maximum 90oF) and cold winters (typical minimum -20oF) with the majority of precipitation falling during late spring and early summer. The average annual precipitation is 11.37 inches and average annual snowfall is 48 inches. Winds are generally westerly throughout the year, averaging 7 to 8 miles per hour. Cold air may be trapped in the Helena Valley during winter forming pronounced temperature inversions.

Fort Harrison is located at the southwestern edge of the Helena Valley. This valley encompasses approximately 875 square miles and is surrounded by mountain ranges. The elevation at Fort Harrison ranges from 3,950 feet at the southeastern corner to 5,252 along the western boundary.

The northeastern corner of Fort Harrison consists of stream deposits (from Quaternary period) generally 10 to 40 feet thick and is comprised of pebbles, cobbles, and boulders interlayered with thin beds of sand, silt, and clay. Slope wash deposits approximately 1 to 20 feet thick underlie the northern portion of Fort Harrison and consists of coarse gravels, silts and clay washed off of steeper adjacent slopes. Sedimentary bedrock consisting of sandstone, shale, limestone, and dolomite, underlies much of the southern and western portions of Fort Harrison. This bedrock is several thousand feet thick and is also found under stream deposits and slope wash.

Three noxious weeds, spotted knapweed, leafy spurge, and dalmatian toadflax occur at Fort Harrison. Of these weeds only spotted knapweed occurs in the vicinity of the proposed release site and the existing prairie dog colony. The MT ARNG maintains an active program to control noxious weeds at Fort Harrison. Approximately 170 acres are sprayed annually.

Fort Harrison is used by a variety of wildlife species. Elk and mule deer are common on the western portion. Deer tracks were also observed within the existing prairie dog colony within the cantonment area. Common bird species occurring in the needle-and-thread grass/blue grama habitat type include the horned lark and western meadowlark. Black-tailed prairie dogs provide habitat for several rare or uncommon wildlife species. The black-footed ferret is a Federally listed endangered species that is dependent upon prairie dogs for prey and habitat. The prairie dog colony at Fort Harrison is not large enough to support a ferret population and there are no large prairie dog colonies sufficiently close to Fort Harrison to contain a ferret population.


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