With an area of responsibility covering six states, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana, the Omaha District is one of the largest within Army Corps of Engineers – with that large footprint comes a lot of real estate to manage on land, water and air (think airports). In addition, District civil boundaries also include small portions of Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota.
The District’s real estate division is divided into three separate branches: military, civil works and special projects, all of which supports both military and civil-funded projects. Primary responsibilities include: acquisition; land and property management; military and civil works; and environmental remediation – among others.
The real estate division has over 50 employees who play an important role in the success of the district’s mission according to Sue Goding, real estate division chief. The real estate mission covers a variety of areas including industrial, commercial, civil and military. The management of these various products and assets requires a team effort, she added.
“We do everything involving real estate. Every project the district is involved with whether it’s land, water or air, people have rights to it - if we’re going to use it we need to secure those rights,” Goding said. “On the flip side, there are people that want to use government land, so we have to make sure that we give them the appropriate rights.”
Goding explained not many people are aware of how large, complex and involved the Corps’ real estate mission is and that not all districts have a military mission.
In addition, they provide support for the Department of Defense Joint Facilities Recruiting Program and serves as a liaison with property owners to help manage the leased space within the various recruiting stations.
“I enjoy helping to support and deliver the mission. It’s also rewarding for me to help our team members grow professionally and meet their goals,” Goding said. “I take such pride in how we all pull together as a team, not just in real estate but within the district as well. I know that we are making a difference in the world.”
The real estate division’s civil works branch plays many important roles including the management of federal lands and natural resources by providing appropriate leases and out-grants for timber rights and mineral exploration which allow companies to use federal land. They have also been instrumental in helping return land to states and tribal nations.
“Historically we have done lots of major land transfers over the past 20, 30 years and gotten rid of hundreds of thousands of acres of land to the state of South Dakota and to Native American tribes,” said Rick Noel, civil works branch chief. “We’ve had three different initiatives were land was transferred back to American Indian tribes, the last being about five years ago, when we transferred over one hundred thousand acres.”
During the current pandemic the real state division has provided vital support as part of the District’s program delivery teams.
“It was rewarding to assist the rapid response teams and help to certify that alternate care space was available so that the contractors could go in and build the alternate care facilities in Arizona, Colorado and Montana,” Noel said.
The District assisted with the recent build out of several alternate care facilities in response to COVID-19 at the request of FEMA and state governors in Colorado and Montana.
Goding said that one of the experiences that she’s most grateful for and proud of was having the opportunity to deploy for six months to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2006 in support the Corps’ real estate mission abroad. She explained that she learned not only a lot about herself, but having no military background, learned a lot about the military very quickly.
More information about the real estate program can be found on the District’s web-site at: https://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Business-With-Us/Real-Estate/