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Protecting Military Readiness and the Iconic Gopher Tortoise at the Same Time. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region (Atlanta, GA) reports that the Gopher Tortoise Conservation and Crediting Strategy was officially unveiled at a ceremony at the Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area in Irwin County, Georgia. The Strategy encourages the proactive conservation of the gopher tortoise, a candidate species for protection under the Endangered Species Act. This final strategy establishes a process for targeting conservation investments on non-military lands to establish “credits” that will allow the military to continue its mission throughout southeast, the historical range of the species, in the event that it is protected under the ESA.
Outside Camp Ripley, Pine Trees and Prairie Stand Sentinel. The Duluth News Tribune (Camp Ripley, MN) reports on a public meeting held at Camp Ripley to celebrate the progress of the Sentinel Landscape Partnership and inform community members about opportunities for future participation and collaboration. Sentinel Landscape Partnership efforts around the installation benefit the local community, environment, and the military mission of the base. Coverage of the public meeting invitation from Camp Ripley appeared in the Brainerd Dispatch.
Florida Seeks Funds to Match REPI Dollars. Florida Politics (floridapolitics.com) reports that about $3 million in REPI Program funds could be lost if the State of Florida does not provide matching funds by the end of 2018. REPI Program funds have invested over $19 million in the state since 2002 to protecting installations from incompatible development that restricts or inhibits military missions. The Florida Defense Alliance is calling attention to the potential loss in order to sustain the military mission in Florida and “continue to gain and add to the economy.” Under the REPI Program’s authority, DoD can fund cost sharing partnerships with states, local governments, or non-profits, but cannot be a sole funding source.
Get to Know Camp Ripley. The Brainerd Dispatch (Brainerd, MN) introduces readers to local National Guard installation Camp Ripley. In 2016, the installation conducted 254,000 man-days of military training and 60,500 man-days of training for state interagency partners. The installation encompasses 18 miles of pristine Mississippi River waterfront, and manages the area for water quality and habitat preservation. Camp Ripley is also one of six Federally-designated Sentinel Landscape locations, and works together with Federal, state, and local partners to preserve the local landscape, rural character, and natural resources of the area.
Partnering to Protect Longleaf Pines and the Military. The Conservation Fund (Arlington, VA) reports in their blog post that they are working to help the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conserve the 19,577-acre forested Sansavilla property. The Conservation Fund (the Fund) and Georgia DNR are restoring key sites on the property back to longleaf forest using Federal funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the REPI Program. The project benefits approximately 400 threatened gopher tortoises and protects the military’s ability to conduct low-altitude flight training at nearby Townsend Bombing Range by maintaining this large tract in a compatible land use.
Camp Blanding to Benefit from $400K in Military Grant Money from the State of Florida. WJXT News4Jax (Jacksonville, FL) reports that Clay County, Florida received $400,000 in funding from the Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program to purchase land adjacent to the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center. The land acquired by the Clay County Development Authority will buffer Camp Blanding from incompatible development, thus protecting the test and training mission of this installation that comprises nearly one fifth of the county. “This is a remarkable opportunity not only to strengthen our part in national security, but promote jobs and economic development at both the local and state levels,” said Josh Cockrell of the Clay County Development Authority.
REPI Manager Recognized by Commander for Contribution to Buckley AFB Project. The 460th Space Wing Public Affairs Office (Aurora, CO) reports that Col. David Miller, Jr., 460th Space Wing Commander, presented Hillary Merritt, a project manager with The Trust for Public Land, with an Air Force-level award recognizing her contribution to the Buckley Air Force Base (AFB) Compatible Use Buffer Project. The award recognizes services and achievements as a private citizen for contributions to the accomplishment of the missions of an Air Force Agency. Ms. Merritt played a significant role in the development and implementation of the Buckley AFB REPI project, which has led to the protection of 262 acres of land surrounding the base from incompatible development.
Northern Mississippi River Water in Excellent Condition, Measures in Place at Camp Ripley to Ensure this Continues. The Brainerd Dispatch (Brainerd, MN) reports that a Minnesota agency study of the health of the Mississippi River identified Camp Ripley and its many Sentinel Landscape and REPI buffer partners as contributors to the River’s excellent water quality levels. Though the study notes that water quality decreases as the Mississippi flows south through more urban areas, the study concludes that the efforts of multiple Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Nature Conservancy, Camp Ripley, and the state are improving overall water quality and benefitting species habitat along the Northern Mississippi River.
North Florida Land Trust Triples Land Conserved in 2016. PR.com (Jacksonville, FL) reports that the North Florida Land Trust tripled the amount of land the organization had conserved over its lifetime – just in 2016. A major contributor to this success was the Land Trust’s REPI buffer partnership with Camp Blanding. The lands protected in 2016 include working pine forests, wetlands, and swamps.
Shaw AFB, Part of the Midlands Area Joint Installation Consortium (MAJIC), Works Towards Sentinel Landscape Designation. DVIDS Hub (Arlington, VA) reports that Shaw AFB officials are meeting with their civilian counterparts to begin working towards a Sentinel Landscapes designation around the installation. This decision came out of the Sumter-Shaw Air Force Base Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), completed in September 2016. The JLUS identified mitigating F-35 noise contours, or high noise zones, as a primary recommendation for Shaw AFB. The Sentinel Landscapes partnership would help the installation work together with community partners to achieve this goal. New Sentinel Landscapes designations will be announced later in 2017.
More Work to Protect Land and Compatibility at Fort Drum Planned for 2017. The Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY) interviews officials at Fort Drum and staff with the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited, both REPI buffer partners, about their anticipated projects in 2017. The partnership is currently working with landowners at two properties who are interested in protecting their land from incompatible development, and has another 25 landowners on a waiting list for consideration.
Lease Option Could Lead to Solar Farm in Buffer Zone Near Fort Carson. The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO) reports that the El Paso Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved an option submitted by Tradewind Energy to lease 120 acres outside of Fort Carson for a solar energy project. If the project moves forward, it is projected to bring approximately $500,000 in taxes to El Paso County each year, as well as help prevent additional incompatible development near Fort Carson.