Fort McCoy

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While people may think Fort McCoy would be a destructive place used by the military without caring for nature, it is actually to the contrary. Fort McCoy prides itself in preserving the wilderness and all the species that inhabit it. Found between Sparta and Tomah Wisconsin, Fort McCoy Military Base spanning over 60,000 acres houses many types of species alongside powerful machines of warfare. Opened in 1909, Fort McCoy is used all year round for training our troops in Wisconsin's weather, as well as more recently, open for the hunting and fishing on its land. Much has been added to the base since its creation, especially in 1938 with the addition of 45,000 acres and main living quarters on base. Fort McCoy truly tries to show its love of wilderness while still dedicating its time and resources to military training.

Fort McCoy Location. Source: [1]


Formation/History of Fort McCoy


The original purchase was called the Sparta maneuver Tract which originally was only 14000 acres. [2] It originally had only two camps which were Camp Emory Upton and Camp Robinson. Then in 1910, the army renamed the entire camp Camp Bruce E. McCoy, named after Bruce McCoy, an army captain in the civil war, who originally proposed the area as a training ground. Eventually in 1926 the name was shortened to Camp McCoy. His son, Robert McCoy was a Major General in the Army during World War I and the camp was then renamed to Fort McCoy. The post's name was changed in 1926 but was not fully changed to the modern name of Fort McCoy until 1974. Before World War I began there was expansion to the camp but it wasn't particularly substantial. It wasn't until World War I began that the camp really started to expand. There were many new additions including new rifle ranges for soldier training, structures such as living quarters and mess halls as well as stables for horses.[3]


Once WWI had ended the camp was assigned to be an ordnance depot where unused ordnance was turned into dynamite. The camp was also largely disassembled to make crates for packaging. In 1926, the camp was returned to the U.S. Army and began artillery and Reserve/National Guard Training on site once again. During this time there was a large amount of unemployed men and because of this the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) created a camp on McCoy and hired men to give them income and shelter in exchange for working at McCoy. Large numbers of these men later underwent the army training to become soldiers.


This time period introduced the biggest expansions to the camp which was an addition of 45,000+ acres as well as construction of new structures and living quarters. These additions brought numbers to a much higher number to a max capacity of 35,000 soldiers at a time. The additions eventually came to total about 30 million dollars and became officially finished on August 30, 1942.

World War II

During the second world war McCoy was used to house potentially dangerous enemy aliens in 1942. Post was also used to house POW's during the raging warfare and it held 4000 Japanese and German POW's throughout the war. The CCC camp that was created to give Americans jobs, was used as a POW camp during the second world war as well as an internment camp that held Japanese-Americans. This was due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese-American citizens were placed into these internment camps due to confusion about the Japanese attack as well as for the protection of Japanese-American families. Following WWII, the Korean War in 1950 post began to train more troops for war, until 1953 when it became deactivated once again. After this Fort McCoy became a place for smaller national, state and civilian projects, as well as a training center for the National Guard.


A second expanse of construction was undertaken in the 90s costing about 140 million dollars, which could originally train 100000 members every year. This number grew to about 150000 soldiers after construction additions.



Many different species of animals and plants call Fort McCoy home. The Fort McCoy Barren SNA (State Natural Area) protects different kinds of trees and birds such as oak barrens and grasshopper sparrows.[4] Fort McCoy protects many areas on base and allows for wildlife and plants to grow. While it does allow for hunting, it is very controlled and requires licensing and permits.

Hunting, Fishing, Trapping

People with the proper permits and licenses are allowed to hunt, fish or trap on Fort McCoy. While the acreage of Fort McCoy is largely set aside for training soldiers, they are also available for hunting, fishing or trapping when not in use. Wildlife data is collected to monitor the population and quality of life of the wildlife in the area. The money that is collected from the permits or licenses required to hunt, trap or fish goes towards helping preserve the wilderness areas and maintaining the areas used for this recreation. Fort McCoy is very committed to training their soldiers as well as preserving and maintaining wilderness areas for public use.[5]

Deer Research

While hunting is allowed on fort McCoy property, the deer populations are monitored heavily to keep good a sustainable number of deer. Along with being monitored through the use of hunting times for types of firearms and weapons, tags are distributed just like the rest of Wisconsin, as well as allowing all tags be switched to either sex tags after the initial weekend days for more open shooting. Fort McCoy also requires anyone that hunts and harvests a deer to either take it to a designated deer research site, which records weight, fat, age, sometimes DNA strands, and looks for significant number of deer ticks and other concerns of deer species. This helps track the overall health of the deer herd and the readily food supply/what types of food the deer are finding.[6] Data has been tracked since 1978 and can be found on the Fort McCoy Natural Resources i-Sportsman page.

Wolf Population Management

A very controversial species over the history of the US, especially in Wisconsin is the Gray Wolf which over the history of the US had nearly been hunted to extinction. This near extinction of Gray Wolves changed the mindset of the world from thinking that no predators meant a better environment, to the need of predators for every ecosystem. A lot of research techniques have been used by Fort McCoy to track packs range, find dens, and look into pack health and numbers. These techniques include trapping and tagging or chipping, trail cams, and tracking footprints in the snow. The main reason people are afraid of increasing numbers of wolves is because,[7] "Yearling wolves often will leave their natal pack in order to find a mate" Wilder said and this is why wolves in Wisconsin continue to expand their range. The biggest concern with increasing populations of wolves to people are that wolves are a large and powerful predator but tend to leave humans and their animals alone. [8] Numbers have been rising since many people feel that wolves will go after their pets or livestock because more numbers mean they have the availability to test their strength around humans. But deer are one of the key food sources for wolves, which Fort McCoy has a sufficient population to support the wolves on post. Ultimately if wolf populations become too high strict hunting and trapping will be available in Wisconsin, which is already being tested in some places.

Timber Harvest

Fort McCoy timber harvest has been used ever since the huge expanse of territory in 1938 and a little before hand because of the huge expanse of forests it has. A lot of timber harvest is to maintain the conditions of the army trails and introduction of new trails through forests, but is done in a manner to keep concern on the new growth of trees in the ecosystem. The main goal is to serve the Army and create more grounds for future soldiers to use however, [9] "By thinning trees, the ones left will grow larger faster. This gives troops overhead cover and again allows for better maneuver space." Fort McCoy's natural resources branch has been named one of the best natural resources conversations team a few times because they stay true to the environment and back it up rather, than forgetting about it.

Prescribed Burning

Prescribed burns on Fort McCoy grounds have already started early this year and has been extremely successful, except for the huge snowstorm during April. These burns [10] "help set back invasive species, and they burn up their seed banks. Burns also give native species an opportunity to compete against some of the non-native species, as many native species depend on fire to help stimulate them and set back non-native species." Burning revitalizes the environment to allow new growth to have a fighting chance instead of being pushed out by old growth. It also manages the weeds and growth that limits the space for healthier plants to grow. The burns on Fort McCoy have been going on for some time now because of these facts. Since burning was thought of as a negative on the environment for a while, people made sure to put out fires and attempt to make sure many would never start. Eventually it was found out that fires were very good for the overall health of the environment and brought back to the world.


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