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Badlands Bombing Range
A controlled explosion blows a crater into the earth on the Air Force Retained Area of the World War II era Badlands Bombing Range Oct. 3, 2011. The explosion destroyed the last four known munitions on the Air Force Retained Area of the range ending this portion of the project to clean up the 2,486 acres of land (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Kate Walker/Released).
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Ellsworth contractors work with tribe to destroy bombs

Posted 10/12/2011   Updated 10/12/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman Kate Walker
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

10/12/2011 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Contractors from the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron and Native American Engineering detonated four spent munitions Oct. 3, 2011 on the Air Force Retained Area of the World War II era Badlands Bombing Range on Pine Ridge Reservation 20 miles southeast of Phoenix, South Dakota.

The spent munitions were the last of more than 13,700 pounds of known munitions fragments excavated from the World War II era range, which was first used as a training ground for bomber pilots in 1942.

"We're wrapping up a three-month $1.6 million project to remove unexploded ordinance here," said Tim Pavek, the 28th Civil Engineer Environmental Restoration Program remedial program manager. "And this is the last day of the project, a day we've been looking forward to for a long time. We've had a great relationship with the tribe. It's been fun to have them out here and learn from them. We did a plant survey together, looked at paleontological and archeological resources, and learned a little bit about them. So, we really look forward to working with them over the next period of time as we take this project forward."

Ellsworth Air Force Base has been working with the Oglala Sioux Tribe since 2008 when then wing commander Col. Scott Vanderhamm and the tribe president John Yellow Bird-Steele signed an agreement work together to clean up the 2,486 acre Air Force Retained Area, to make it safe for reuse, and to facilitate return of the land.

"The working relationship between Ellsworth and the Oglala Sioux Tribe has been great and I'm happy to be in [this] working relationship too," said Sara Buckman, the Native American Environmental Outreach Coordinator and a Badlands Bombing Range Technician.

Contractors continue to clear the inactive Air Force Retained Area of the Badlands Bombing Range for the past three months.

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