U.S. Army Garrison Fort Drum, N.Y. – Today, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Drum received the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region’s Military Conservation Partner Award for its outstanding contributions to natural resource management.
Garrison Commander Colonel Michael Myer accepted the award in a ceremony at the installation in northern New York, attended by members of the installation’s Natural Resources Branch staff and representatives from the Service.
“Our military partners are vital to achieving conservation outcomes that both benefit wildlife and their habitats and enhance our nation’s readiness,” said Kyla Hastie, Deputy Regional Director for the Service’s Northeast Region. “We commend Fort Drum’s dedication to protecting our natural heritage and our national security.”
Col. Myer congratulated the team of biologists, botanists, foresters, and environmental protection and wildlife specialists who sustain more than 100,000 acres of land that serve as a critical training asset for the Army.
He credited their innovative and collaborative approach to stewardship and community outreach for providing the best environment for training and recreating at Fort Drum.
“In the short time I’ve been here, one thing I always hear is that people love Fort Drum because of the nature all around them,” he said. “We appreciate everything the Natural Resources team does to enable our mission, provide recreation, and conserve species. Being in a garrison is all about integration and this is what I’ve seen this team do – bringing in our partners from the community to share information and increase our understanding.”
Set on 108,000 acres between the western edge of the Adirondacks and Lake Ontario, Fort Drum is the largest military installation in the Northeastern U.S. It encompasses 20,000 acres of wetlands, 90 miles of rivers and streams, and more than 60,000 acres of forests that support diversity of natural resources and wildlife.
Since establishing its Natural Resources Branch in 1992, the Fort Drum has worked closely with the Service and other partners in the state to support conservation on and off site – including managing , protecting the St. Lawrence River watershed and recovering listed species.
When Indiana bats were discovered at the installation in 2006, Fort Drum worked closely with the Service’s New York Field Office to protect this federally endangered species, including by setting aside and improving 2,200 acres of core roosting habitat.
The extensive pre- and post-White-nose syndrome summer bat information collected at the installation has been instrumental in helping researchers understand the effects of this devastating disease on a number of hibernating bat species.
Working with Ducks Unlimited and Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Fort Drum enrolled more than 8,000 acres around the installation in the Army Compatible Use Buffer program. This minimizes encroachment to protect the military mission, conserves habitat for species such as the Indiana bat, provides opportunities for wetland mitigation, and protects working lands around the installation.
Home to one of the largest contiguous open grassland communities on federal property in the Northeast, the installation also provides important habitat to rare birds and pollinators and has long been active in grassland bird research, monitoring, and management activities.
Fort Drum is also the largest New York State Fish and Wildlife Management Act Cooperator Area, with approximately 70,000 acres open to the public for recreation.
To make these lands more welcoming, the installation has developed several disabled-access hunting opportunities, and hosts multiple public events each year, including a fishing derby, Outdoor Adventure Day, and Maple Days.
The Service’s work with military partners serves to strategically manage listed species, improve wildlife habitat, restore connectivity of vital waterways, prevent infestations of invasive species, and enhance recreational opportunities.
The Northeast Region established the Regional Military Conservation Partner award in 2021 to recognize military installations like Fort Drum for their outstanding work to conserve important wildlife and their habitats on military land.