North Florida Land Trust, Partners Focus on Creating Ocala to Osceola Wildlife Corridor. The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL) reports that the North Florida Land Trust has acquired three parcels of land totaling 565 acres in Duval and Clay counties and is working with state and federal agencies to create a wildlife corridor from Ocala to Osceola. The project, which seeks to preserve wildlife habitat and water resources spanning public and private land throughout North Florida, dovetails well with the military’s mission in this landscape. Camp Blanding, a National Guard installation serves as a critical link in this potential corridor, which, if realized, benefits wildlife and the public in addition to protecting Camp Blanding’s training mission.
Pennsylvania Guard Environmental Team Receives Awards for ACUB Project at Fort Indiantown Gap. The U.S. Army Public Affairs (Arlington, VA) reports that members of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s environmental office at Fort Indiantown Gap received two national awards this fall. The national resources team won the for its efforts with the Army Compatible Use Buffer program at Fort Indiantown Gap and was also recognized for maintaining the installation's habitat and wildlife. Their efforts with the regal fritillary butterfly, a rare species, were commended as well. "This award recognizes many of the hardworking members of the team," said Patricia Rickard, environmental planning manager for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, "it showcases how we maintain a healthy and sustainable habitat and wildlife population while running an active military installation."
Burlington County Reaches Milestone in Preserving Land around Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The Courier Post (Mt. Holly, NJ) reports that Burlington County has surpassed 30,000 preserved agricultural acers on 250 farms with the purchase of easements on nine additional farms. These latest purchases were made possible through a cost sharing partnership with Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, which put forth REPI funds for the acquisition of easements on these parcels within the installation’s buffer zone. Most of the nine farms, especially the four in Chesterfield, will be “filling the holes in the doughnut” formed by previously preserved farms around the base, said county farmland preservation coordinator Brian Wilson.
REPI Sustains Mission through Community Partnerships. The 460th Space Wing Public Affairs (Buckley Air Force Base, CO) reports that the 460th Space Wing led a tour of the Buckley Air Force Base REPI project on 26 October 2017. The tour included representatives from the Department of Defense and prospective REPI land trust partners from around the country and was intended to highlight the project’s accomplishments and future goals. “Buckley has an incredibly effective and inclusive REPI program,” said Col. Rob Riegel, 460th Space Wing vice commander. “Our local, state and national partnerships allow us to focus our REPI efforts on enhancing vital mission and readiness capabilities for the base, and they provide enhanced use of public lands for the local community.”
North Florida Land Trust Acquires Land near Camp Blanding. The Jacksonville Daily Record (Jacksonville, FL) reports that the North Florida Land Trust acquired 425 acres in Clay County, which is home to an endangered sandhill forest with a longleaf pine ecosystem. Little Rain Lake Preserve is in Keystone Heights near Little Rain Lake Park, close to Camp Blanding. The land was acquired through funding from the REPI Program. Camp Blanding identified the land as a candidate for conservation and to protect military land from encroaching development.
Sansavilla Wildlife Area Expansion Complete. The Defense Media Activity (Fort Meade, MD) reports that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources held a ribbon cutting ceremony in Hortense, Ga., Oct. 16 to announce the acquisition of land for the Sansavilla Wildlife Management Area. The funds for the purchases came from the Georgia DNR conservation fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program. The Marine Corps purchased a restricted use easement to buffer Townsend Bombing Range. “We are proud to be a part of the team effort to protect Sansavilla,” said Col. Timothy P. Miller, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. “The conservation of this critical property along the Altamah River provides needed encroachment protection that will enhance our training at TBR and will ensure our pilots and crew are prepared for today’s enemies and tomorrow’s conflicts.”
Emerald Isle Secures Funding for Property Purchase near MCAS Cherry Point. The Topsail Advertiser (Emerald Isle, NC) reports that all the funding pieces have come together for a land purchase by the Town of Emerald Isle that will help preserve a buffer between military training in the area and future community uses. A critical piece of the purchase plan includes federal funding available through the REPI Program. The 29.7-acre property is the last remaining large vacant tract of land within the Town of Emerald Isle and is located in the flight path for Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue. The plan is to preserve 20 acres in its natural state and reserve the remaining 9.7 acres for future recreational uses for the surrounding community.”
Fort Indiantown Gap helps to Preserve Land Using the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program. The Defense Media Activity (Fort Meade, MD) reports that More than 4,000 acres of pristine land near the De Hart reservoir was preserved in perpetuity during a ceremony at the Keystone Conference Center here September 18. More than $4 million from the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program helped protect the land in its natural state through a conservation easement. Other agencies were integral to the process, including the Capital Region Water authority who agreed to the sale and the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, Fort Indiantown Gap’s partner conservation agency. The area surrounding DeHart Reservoir plays a significant role in low-level rotary winged aircraft training for Fort Indiantown Gap. “It’s such an honor to be involved with Fort Indiantown Gap to protect the fine training you all do here,” said Ward Burton, NASCAR driver and founder of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation.
Department of Defense Helps Finance Farmland Conservation in Fauquier County. Fauquier Now (Warrenton, VA) reports that Fauquier County completed a $212,500 funding agreement with the federal government to offset the cost of permanently protecting from development 250 acres of farmland near Marine Corps Base Quantico. Funding for the program is available through the Department of Defense’s REPI Program, which aims to protect compatible land uses in the vicinity of important military installations.
Local Landowners Learn about the Mission at OLF Whitehouse. JaxAirNews (Jacksonville, FL) reports that Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville hosted a group of local landowners who are helping to buffer and protect the Navy’s training and operational mission at Outlying Field (OLF) Whitehouse through the REPI Program. The group of landowners, who willingly partnered with the Navy and other organizations to protect their land and maintain the rural character of the surrounding landscape, observed training exercises and learned about the flight operations at OLF Whitehouse that they are helping to protect. “The willingness of private citizens,” explained Matt Schellhorn, NAS Jacksonville community planning liaison officer, “allows NAS Jacksonville to prevent encroachment of the Navy’s facilities and installations.”
Federal Grant to Help Limit Development near NC Military Bases. WRAL (Raleigh, NC) reports that Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced that North Carolina will receive more than $9 million in Federal funding to protect areas around military bases. "We all know that there's been encroachment around our military bases. This means that they can't train like they want to or as much as they want to," Troxler said. "When you marry forestry, agriculture and the military together, and we could use agriculture and forestry to protect the military, that's as good as it gets." The Federal grant will be matched by money from the military, the USDA, and the state. Similar stories also appeared in the News & Observer and the North State Journal.
Camp Ripley Named Secretary of Defense Environmental Award Winner. The Brainerd Dispatch (Brainerd, MN) reports that the Department of Defense selected Camp Ripley as the winner of the 2017 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation. The award in part recognizes Camp Ripley’s conservation and encroachment protection efforts through the Army Compatible Use Buffer program and the Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape partnership, which seeks to conserve natural habitat and working lands that are compatible with the Camp’s training activities. "Our mission is to complement and support the military mission of the Camp Ripley Training Site by promoting sound natural resource stewardship principles," said Josh Pennington, the Camp's environmental supervisor.
Proposed Land Purchase by Town Could Also Benefit Military. The Jacksonville Daily News (Jacksonville, NC) reports that the Town of Emerald Isle is moving forward with the acquisition of the final remaining parcel of land in a project to buffer an auxiliary landing field used by units training out of nearby MCAS Cherry Point. The town proposes funding the acquisition of the parcel, which is located directly underneath a military flight path, using funds from the DoD REPI Program, several state programs, and the town’s operating budget. The town intends to use the property for recreational purposes, conveniently located near an existing recreation center.
Fort A.P. Hill Accepts the 2017 Governor's Environmental Excellence Gold Award. The U.S. Army Public Affairs (Alexandria, VA) reports that Fort A.P. Hill was awarded the 2017 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Gold Award for Land Conservation in recognition of the Fort’s Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Partnership. The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards recognize significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in Virginia.
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.