Fish and Aquatic Conservation
soldiers in a tank managing healthy native bird habitat
Tank at Fort Hood - Managing for healthy native bird habitat on Fort Hood is an essential task for a terrain that regularly accommodates a high volume of military exercises.
Photo credit: Gil Eckrich

Military Lands Conservation

Restoring Dry Creek

Joint project with U.S. Air Force opens spawning habitat for threatened steelhead

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists survey Beale Lake in 2019 in preparation to remove the dam and restore Dry Creek for threatened Central Valley steelhead
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists survey Beale Lake in 2019 in preparation to remove the dam and restore Dry Creek for threatened Central Valley steelhead. Credit: Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes/USAF
In 1943 the Army completed a dam on Camp Beale so its soldiers could fish, swim and jump off the dam’s diving platform. Nearly 80 years later, the Air Force is giving Dry Creek back to the original tenants: its fish.

“The dam was built to provide recreation,” said Paul Cadrett, a fish biologist and habitat restoration coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lodi, California. “Then in the ’80s someone said, ‘Hey, there are fish banging their heads at the bottom of this dam,’ so they built a fish ladder. But it didn’t work very well, and most fish weren’t able to navigate it.”
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The Department of Defense (DoD) manages approximately 25 million acres of land that is largely protected from development.  These lands support the preservation of ecologically important native habitats such as old-growth forests, tall-grass prairies, coastal beaches, and vernal pool wetlands making military installations a haven for fish, wildlife, and plants, including rare and unique species.

The Sikes Act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), state fish and wildlife agencies, and military installations across the nation to work closely to conserve fish and wildlife. The Sikes Act ensures the protection and enhancement of ecosystems, while allowing military lands to sustain military operations and meet mission success. Working under the Sikes Act, the Service offers the military guidance and support for the conservation and management of fish and wildlife resources on military installations while meeting military readiness goals.

The U.S. Air Force and the Service have worked closely over the past decade to implement a conservation partnership that uses the collaboration tools of the Sikes Act to full effect. This partnership has resulted in significantly improved conservation outcomes and more efficient use of resources. Building on this success, the Army and the Service recently announced the completion of an Interagency Agreement that will institute a formal collaborative effort to further conservation gains.

Although the ultimate objectives and mission of the military services and the Service are different, the outcomes of the collaborative conservation partnerships are the same. Under interagency agreements that are enabled by the Sikes Act, the Service provides expertise to assist the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army in the development and application of an environmental stewardship ethic based on ecological principles, scientific knowledge of fish and wildlife, and experience conserving and protecting the Nation’s fish, wildlife, and their habitats. The Service offers the military guidance for the appropriate conservation, development, and management of the natural resources on their installations while meeting the readiness goals of the Department of Defense.  These collaborative partnerships have demonstrated gains for our Nation’s natural resources and continue to offer many more conservation advantages into the future.  These are synergistic relationships that benefit from working together and not doing it alone.

photo of military officer releasing a gopher tortoise

Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans

Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan or INRMP, focuses on ecosystem-based management with a goal of managing the natural resources to meet stewardship requirements while supporting, and even enhancing, military operations.

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photo of an adult Western Snowy Plover

Air Force Natural Resource Partnership

Air Force and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been engaged in a formal partnership to conserve fish, wildlife and other natural resources on Air Force lands across the United States.

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photo of a Karner Blue butterfly

Army Natural Resource Partnership

The Army is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find new ways to increase the conservation of sensitive species and habitats while ensuring the sustainability of the military mission.

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photo of Indiana bats in a cave

Military Conservation Partner Award

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director established the Military Conservation Partner Award to recognize military installations for exceptional cooperative conservation efforts.

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military officer and fish and wildlife service employee holding a channel catfish

Military Lands Conservation Initiatives

Military lands conservations initiatives include the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program and the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership.

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military soldier walkign through the fields at Fort Carson army base

Military Lands Conservation Resources and Contacts

Variety of resources to support conservation activities on military lands and contact information for Service employees which provides assistance to military lands conservation partners at the local, regional and national levels.

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