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
By Bridget Macdonald
An aerial view of a retired shooting range at Camp Edwards — adjacent to an active one — that has been managed to provide a rare type of habitat. Massachusetts Army National Guard
On warm, windless days in late spring, small brown butterflies flit among yellow wildflowers blooming around earthen mounds within a secured perimeter on Cape Cod. Until 1999, those mounds held shooting targets for soldiers in training.
“In just 20 years, we’ve transformed an old rifle range into a flagship conservation area for a whole suite of species, including the frosted elfin butterfly,” said Jake McCumber, Natural Resources and Training Lands Manager for the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
The Department of Defense (DoD) manages approximately 27 million acres of land on 338 military installations 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Military Lands Conservation Initiatives
Military lands conservations initiatives include the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program and the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership.
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.