Sunday, April 17, 2011

Welcome to Today at the TCAAP Wildlife View Area

Tree Swallow on the Wing DSC_0115
Tree Swallow on the Wing
by Mully410 * Images

Welcome to Today at the TCAAP Wildlife View Area.  I've been visiting this site in Arden Hills, Minnesota almost daily since 2008.  In that time, I've seen all sorts of interesting wildlife, plants and events.  This blog is where I will document what I see and experience while within the confines of this small patch of restored prairie.  I hope you look forward to enjoying my experiences and photographs in this area. 

TCAAP = Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.

From the City of Arden Hills' website:
TCAAP Property History
In 1941, the federal government started construction on the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP), which occupied about 3.7 square miles (2,370 acres) in what was then Mounds View Township.  During a 16 month period, over 300 buildings were constructed to manufacture and test munitions for World War II.  The plant also produced munitions for the Korean conflict, Vietnam conflict, and the first Gulf War.  At its peak, the property had 40 miles of electric and telephone wire, 83 miles of sewer, 37 miles of road and railroad track, and employed more than 25,000 people.

The entire TCAAP property was included in the Arden Hills municipal border when the City incorporated in 1951, and now occupies approximately the northern third of Arden Hills.  The TCAAP property is bounded by Highway 96 on the south, Highways 10 and 35W on the west, Lexington Avenue on the east, and County Road I on the north.

Between 1974 and 1985, the federal government started decommissioning TCAAP.  While munitions production by private entities continued into the early 2000s, operations were a fraction of peak production.  Plans to transfer portions of the property and redevelop it have been in the works since the 1980s. 
During the manufacture of small arms ammunition and other munitions over 60 years, the site was heavily contaminated.  The US Environmental Protection Agency designated many individual "super fund" sites within the property.  Clean up continues to this day. 

The TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area in on the East side of the former TCAAP property.  This side is currently used by the US Army and Minnesota National Guard.  This side is now known as the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS).  I often see the green drab vehicles driving around the spider web of gravel roads.  The WVA itself is very small, perhaps a quarter of an acre.  There is a small trail of only a few hundred feet that winds around and over an old timber bridge.  (More on the bridge in a later post)

I'm not going to guarantee that I'll post every day but I will promise that I'll post something from every one of my visits. 

Today, I saw:  Trumpeter Swans, Osprey, Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, American Crows, Mallards, Canada Geese, Goldfinches and a juvenile bald eagle.

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