Military lands are comprised of over 30 million acres that are largely protected from development and that represent diverse habitat types and contain a wealth of plant and animal life. They preserve ecologically important native habitats such as old-growth forests, tall-grass prairies, and vernal pool wetlands. In many cases, these lands are havens for rare and unique plant and animal species.
The Sikes Act recognizes the importance and value of military lands to natural resources. It seeks to ensure that these ecosystems are protected and enhanced while allowing the military lands to continue to meet the needs of military operations.
Accordingly, the Sikes Act requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop and implement Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs) for military installations across the United States. The law was originally enacted in 1960. INRMPs are prepared cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and State fish and wildlife agencies to ensure proper consideration of fish, wildlife, and habitat needs. INRMPs are required at almost 380 military installations across the Nation, and direct the management and use of the lands on these installations.
Amendments to the Sikes Act required all INRMPs to be completed by November of 2001. These plans are reviewed every year by military installations, and modified as needed. The Sikes Act requires INRMPs to be reviewed at least every 5 years with the Service and States. The military and the USFWS established guidance to assist installations, the USFWS, and state fish and wildlife agencies with the INRMP review and concurrence process. This guidance provides direction to Service staff for the development, implementation and subsequent reviews of INRMPs required by the Sikes Act. In addition, public input is requested during an open comment period. The following documents describe the process:
DoD Guidance for the Implementation of the Sikes Act Improvement Act
Additional DoD Guidance Concerning INRMP Reviews.
USFWS Guidance for Coordination on Department of Defense Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans.
The Service is required to submit an Annual Sikes Act Report to Congress on the amounts expended by the Department of the Interior and the State fish and wildlife agencies on conservation activities conducted pursuant to INRMPs.
Reports are available for the following years:
The Sikes Act and the INRMPs it requires integrate many different aspects of natural resource management. Through the Sikes Act, the Service helps military installations manage their natural resources by providing expertise on the following issues:
The Service has designated Regional FWS Sikes Act Coordinators in order to help meet the needs for coordinating regular INRMP reviews with the military, the State fish and wildlife agencies and Service programs.
In addition to technical assistance that the USFWS provides to the military, the USFWS can enter into interagency agreements with installations to help implement INRMPs. These INRMP implementation projects can include wildlife and habitat assessments and surveys, fish stocking, exotic species control, and hunting and fishing program management. To facilitate these interagency agreements between the USFWS, the military, and the third party of the Sikes Act, state fish and wildlife agencies, the Sikes Act MOU was revised in January 2006. The new MOU lists the authorities available to the three parties of the Sikes Act.
MILITARY CONSERVATION PARTNER AWARD
The Service values its many partnerships with the military services and appreciates the role of military lands in conserving the nature of America. To recognize the hard work that our nation's military installations do for conservation, the Service created the Military Conservation Partner Award. This annual award acknowledges a military installation whose efforts represent significant conservation accomplishments often achieved in partnership with the Service and other conservation agencies.
The 2013 winner of the Military Conservation Partner Award is Naval Base Coronado (NBC). This installation provides unique training facilities for the Navy's elite SEAL teams while actively working to conserve the federally-listed California least tern and the Western snowy plover, among many other rare and endangered species. The natural resources staff have taken a landscape-scale approach to conservation which has resulted in numerous measurable successes while supporting the operational requirements of this extraordinary facility. NBC is comprised of eight units that encompass 60,000 acres of land and water in southern California. The award will be presented by Director Dan Ashe at the 78th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, Virginia.