LEAD, S.D. — About 2,400 military service members are working on community service projects during an annual training exercise hosted by the South Dakota National Guard.

The Golden Coyote training exercise this week includes 30 military units from 13 states, Guam, Canada, and Denmark as well as a handful of service members from Germany and the United Kingdom.

“These projects provide service members with an opportunity to train on their specific skill sets and equipment, while simultaneously providing a direct benefit to our local communities,” said Maj. Anthony Deiss, a state Guard spokesman.

Units complete projects throughout South Dakota, including on five of the state’s Native American reservations, the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/2smg84l ) reported.

About 20 Guard members spent the past week at Lead’s mile-high Sanford Underground Research Facility to work on road access for its water treatment plant. By Monday afternoon, crews were putting the finishing touches on grading and improving stormwater draining channels.

“We have to maintain our access roadways, and we just haven’t had the money or equipment to do it, so they get the training and we get the repairs on a roadway that we needed,” said Dan Regan, a surface operations foreman. “What a great bunch of young men and women, and they are all working together to get the job done.”

Some military units committed time to reducing fuel loads at the 1.2-million-acre Black Hills National Forest, transporting 300 to 400 loads of firewood to South Dakota tribal reservations.

Black Hills Forest official Scott Jacobson said the work gave service members on-the-job training while reducing wildfire risk.

“They are professional, they are trained and they are awesome, hardworking military men and women intent on completing their mission,” he said. “They have been great partners.”

The Golden Coyote exercises will conclude Saturday.

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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