REPI News Roundup

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Below is local and national media coverage for the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program. These news stories feature REPI partnerships that serve as an innovative way to address land use and resource challenges that threaten military readiness, while enhancing relationships with communities and preserving the environment.

Click above to view stories from different years.

June 2024

Partnerships in Cultural, Natural Resource Protection Drive Environmental Team’s Work in Hawaii
The Army Public Affairs Office features the mission of the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaiʻi to protect and conserve more than 120 threatened and endangered species across 22 military installations on Oahu and Hawaiʻi Islands. The Department of Defense invests more than $10 million annually in Natural Resources programming to mitigate potential military impacts on natural and cultural resources in Hawaiʻi. To date, $27 million has also been invested by way of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program towards habitat conservation and creating land buffers between local communities and installations. Working with local partners, 3,800 acres of additional land was identified in 2023 for protection through the REPI Program for projects aimed at increasing land and wildlife resilience, mitigating rare plant impacts, and monitoring threats from invasive species.
Award-winning Fort Walker Team Cites Planning, Partnerships as Cornerstones of Success
The U.S. Army’s Public Affairs Office highlights the Fort Walker Natural Resources Conservation team and its partnership with the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program to manage natural resources on and off the installation in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The team oversees approximately 65,000 forested acres, 6,300 wetland acres, 5,550 open area acres, and 13,500 acres of undeveloped lands surrounding the local installations. The Natural Resources team, in partnership with the REPI Program, manages animals under the Endangered Species Act, provides habitat protection for threatened wildlife, preserves open space and scenic views in three historic districts, and helps to limit incompatible land use that would impede military training.
Chesterfield Township Lagoon Property Put in Conservation Easement
The Voice (New Baltimore, MI) reports that a 60-acre conservation easement has been conveyed to Six River Land Conservancy in Chesterfield Township that will limit development in an accident potential zone near Selfridge Air National Guard Base. With funding provided by the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, the easement will prioritize a 20-acre decommissioned landfill and lagoon to protect natural wildlife and habitats, as well as preserve open space. Restoration of the property will include transforming a fallow field into a wildflower pollinator meadow, removing invasive species, planting trees, and limiting development around the base  for future military training.
Roanoke River Bottomlands Receives Grant
The Enterprise (Martin County, NC) reports that the Roanoke River Bottomlands Forest project, which is in the Eastern North Carolina Sentinel Landscape, received a $3 million grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture in June. The project is joining the FY 2024 Forest Legacy project to permanently conserve 168,000-acres of significant forest land. The project expands an already existing corridor to over 55,100-acres and will work to increase natural resource recreational tourism by creating two new public access sites along the Roanoke River, a camping platform, and opportunities for public waterfowl hunting.
How the Military from Utah and Beyond Connects to the Great Salt Lake
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT) reports on the 2024 Federal designation of the Great Salt Lake Sentinel Landscape, which is 2.7-million-acres in northern Utah. It contains the Western Hemisphere’s largest saline lake, the Great Salt Lake, and four military installations: Hill Air Force Base, Camp Williams, Tooele Army Depot, and the Air Force Little Mountain Test Facility, which make up the largest block of contiguous special-use airspace in the continental United States. The new sentinel landscape will prioritize combatting climate change and the effects of drought, wildfire mitigation, and engaging community involvement.
2.7M Acres in Northern Utah Targeted for New Military Land Management Policy
KLS News Radio (Salt Lake City, UT) reports on the designation of the 2.7-million-acre Great Salt Lake Sentinel Landscape and its goals to build partnerships that connect funding and opportunities that are essential for conservation projects in its boundaries. As populations have grown around what were once rural and isolated military installations, incompatible development can inhibit military readiness and create challenges for local residents. To address these growing challenges, the Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, and Department of the Interior created the Sentinel Landscape Partnership to work together to prevent incompatible development, protect working agricultural land, and promote resiliency.
Read more about the Great Salt Lake Sentinel Landscape:

May 2024

News from the States (South Carolina) reports that a 4,400-acre stretch of land in Jasper County is set to be preserved. Money from the state, the Department of Defense, and Beaufort County will make up for most of the loss in value. The Nature Conservancy will donate about $4.5 million worth of land to cover the rest. For the military, keeping the land rural ensures pilots doing test flights have safe, open areas for emergency landings, reducing the risk of them hitting a building, said Kate Schaefer, director of land protection for Open Land Trust, which will hold the conservation easement.
Sentinel Landscapes Help Buffer Military Bases with Multiple Benefits
The Bay Net (Annapolis, MD) reports that population growth in recent years has pushed development closer to military bases, encroaching on space needed to carry out military missions.  The article highlights how the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Interior, organizes resources for land conservation and resilience projects that benefit installations and their surrounding communities. The Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape and the Virginia Security Corridor Landscape within the Chesapeake Bay watershed represent DOD's ongoing commitment to protecting water quality and conserving natural resources within this critical region for national defense, working lands, and outdoor recreational economies.

April 2024

Working Lands Trust Secures Grant from U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to Support NC Landowners
The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC) reports that Working Lands Trust received a $382,605 grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities that will support the implementation of forestry programming assistance geared towards underserved Indigenous landowners within the East Carolina Sentinel Landscape. The project aims to foster landowner participation in conservation efforts and promote sustainable forestry management. The collaborative project between the Eastern North Carolina Sentinel Landscape, the North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project, the Land Loss Prevention Project, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the National Woodland Owners Association will continue the landscape’s work of community-supported forestry conservation and military resilience.
Groups Fighting Forest Fires Before They Even Start
Jersey Shore Online (Lakehurst, NJ) reports that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Forest Fire Service and the Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program have partnered with local county government to improve resilience to climate change through sustainable wildfire management. DEP has received $3 million in funding from the REPI Program, with $1.7 million going towards wildfire resilience projects that build fire breaks, implement forest fuel maintenance, and host prescribed burns to protect communities surrounding Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
U.S. Military Works with Local Partners to Protect Hawai‘i’s Natural Environment
Hawaii Business Magazine (Honolulu, HI) reports that seven new Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Challenge projects in Hawai‘i will bring $10 million in funding for projects that focus on habitat preservation, reforestation, watershed protection, flood and wildfire mitigation, and food and water security. New projects include a partnership with Hawai‘i Land Trust that will create a conservation easement adjacent to the Waikalua fishponds complex and the Parker Ranch Maunakea Reforestation Project on Hawai‘i Island that aims to restore 3,300 acres of remnant native forest and pasturelands that will allow Army units at the Pōhakuloa Training Area to conduct realistic training. Since 2021, there have been 15 REPI Challenge projects in Hawai‘i using $40.3 million in Department of Defense funding and $55.5 million in partner contributions, all aiming to protect and conserve environmental resources, promote resiliency, and promote compatible land use around military installations.
Earth Day Highlights DOD's Efforts to Support Mission, People, Environment
The Department of Defense (DOD) reports that the assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment, Brendan Owens, visited an Earth Day exhibit held at the Pentagon on April 17 that featured various DOD and service organizations, including the Readiness and Environment Protection Integration (REPI) Program and DOD Environmental Planning and Conservation’s Natural Resources Program. The event highlighted how mission readiness depends on DOD land being easily accessible for the Military Services to allow for realistic, unimpeded training and environmental conservation. At the event, the REPI Program and Natural Resources Program demonstrated how the DOD prioritizes and promotes mission readiness. Through long-term cooperative agreements with conservation non-governmental conservation organizations and local governments, the REPI Program promotes compatible land use, improves installation resilience, and preserves natural habitats and natural resources. The Natural Resources Program works with installation program directors to provide the policies, guidance, and oversight that support natural resource management on the 27 million acres of land, air, and water that are owned and operated by DOD.
Navy Region Hawai‘i’s On-Going Environmental Stewardship Mission
For Earth Month, The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service features how Navy installations in Hawai‘i continue the important work of the 1960 Sikes Act and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to manage and protect the environment and endangered species. Through the use of Readiness and Environmental Protection and Integration (REPI) Challenge funds, those efforts include a partnership between the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that work to protect local native habitats and support climate resilience and many other environmental stewardship initiatives at Navy Installations across Hawai‘i.
The Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program and the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership’s Vital Role in Conserving Threatened and Endangered Species
The Department of Defense (DOD) featured the newly released Grasshopper Sparrow documentary that spotlights the conservation efforts to protect the endangered grasshopper sparrow found on the Avon Park Airforce Range. As one of the most endangered birds in the United States, the Avon Park Sentinel Landscape partners with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida State Parks, and local governments to protect and increase the grasshopper sparrow on DOD land.
Marines Build Environmental Resilience
Marine Spot (Owens Cross Roads, AL) features how Marine Corps installations are building resilience against environmental threats through the implementation of a new plan, the Installation Campaign Plan for Environmental Resilience and Energy Readiness, that builds projects and establishes practices to ensure military readiness and maintain force projection capabilities. It includes projects funded through the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program at Camp Blaz in Guam, which won the Secretary of Defense Environmental Quality Individual/Team Award for their work in conservation for aiding in recovery efforts following Typhoon Mawar and protecting fragile habitats and ecosystems.
Preserve, Protect, and Defend the Mission: Marine Corps REPI Program Advances Marine Corps Community Partnership and Mission Protection
The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service reports that four Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Challenge projects were awarded in partnership with Marine Corps installations: Marine Corps Base (MCB) Hawai‘i, MCB Camp Blaz, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Paris Island, all totaling over 8,000 acres, $9 million in REPI funds, and $6.3 million in partner contributions. The projects will work to build installation resilience to climate change and natural disasters, improve watersheds, safeguard fragile ecosystems and habitats, promote compatible land use, conserve coral reefs, reduce invasive species, implement sustainable wildfire management practices, and support mission readiness.

March 2024

The Appeal-Democrat (Yuba Country, CA) reports that Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust, in partnership with landowners, California Strategic Growth Council’s Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, the California Department of Conservation, and the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program, finalized a conservation easement that will protect 952 acres in Yuba County, California. With a long history of farming and ranching and an established military community around Beale Air Force Base, conserving the Magnolia Ranch property will preserve agricultural land, protect wildlife habitats, and promote compatible land use around Beale Air Force Base.
The Air Force Public Affairs Office (Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas) reports that the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) is spearheading multiple installation resilience projects that support military readiness as climate change uncertainties threaten to disrupt operations. These projects are executed by AFCEC’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program and funded by cost-sharing partnerships between the Air Force and Federal, state, or local entities. “REPI is a Department of Defense program that funds off-base conservation or resilience projects,” said Shawn Rose, AFCEC REPI Chief. “The partnerships help installations optimize project funds and resources to preserve military capabilities and protect local ecosystems.” The Air Force has used over $117 million in DOD REPI Program funds and $110 million in partner funds to protect 151,483 acres and promote compatible land use. The Air Force currently has several active projects funded through the REPI Program that continue to work to facilitate environmental conservation and the military mission.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (Seattle, WA) announced over $1.8 million in grants across ten projects under the Killer Whale Conservation Program, which is a partnership between Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the U.S. Navy by way of the Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection (REPI) Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. With more than $1.7 million in matching contributions from grantees, for a total conservation impact of more than $3.5 million, the projects will work in the Puget Sound to increase food sources for killer whales by restoring essential salmon habitats.
State, Feds Work to Protect Areas Near Military Bases in Wildfire-Prone Pinelands
The Sandpaper (Burlington County, NJ) reports that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Forest Fire Service, and local officials have partnered with Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the Warren Grove Range on three wildfire resilience projects in the Pinelands of Bass River State Forest.  Funded through the Department of Defense’s REPI Challenge, the projects aim to promote wildfire resilience and protect properties adjacent to the bases by implementing prescribed burns to create fuel and firebreaks.  Since 2020, New Jersey’s Forest Fire Service has received nearly $1.7 million from the REPI Challenge to support wildfire resilience projects that have created or maintained 33 miles of firebreaks and fuel breaks near the two installations.

February 2024

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (Honolulu, HI) reports that in partnership with Army Garrison-Hawaiʻi, was awarded a $2.24 million grant as part of Fiscal Year 2024 REPI Challenge funds to support reforestation, agroforestry, and native seed projects on 511 acres of Wahiawā lands near Schofield Barracks.  This important project will focus on replanting a native Hawaiian forest to buffer the culturally significant site, contribute to overall watershed resiliency, and plant disease and death-resistant plants.  In collaboration with community partners, this project aims to implement sustainable land use practices and preserve cultural knowledge at the site, as well as benefit the long-term sustainability of the Department of Defense’s mission.
The Two River Times (Middletown, NJ) reports that Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF), Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle, Monmouth County, and local townships have partnered to purchase and conserve 255 acres of land in Colts Neck.  Through REPI Program funding, this project will establish a permanent easement to prevent development from encroaching on the installation and protect natural habitats, farmland, and open spaces.  Increased development around NWS Earle has created risks that negatively impact military training and threaten wildlife.  The naval station contains one of the largest wooded areas in Monmouth County, which is now permanently preserved through the easement and will promote military readiness, installation resilience, and protect critical wildlife.
Hoosier Ag Today (Zionsville, IN) features how the 3.5-million-acre Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape (SISL) is leading conservation efforts in the state to support sustainable rural and woodland use and military missions and training.  Having recently received funding from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the SISL continues to build partnerships with conservation agencies in support of their work increasing sustainable farming practices, restoring forestland, and ensuring military readiness around Camp Atterbury and the Crane Naval Facility.
The Post and Courier (Beaufort County, SC) features how the nationwide Sentinel Landscape Partnership promotes compatible land use on properties surrounding military installations while also supporting local conservation goals.  The 2.2-million-acre South Carolina Lowcountry Sentinel Landscape (SCLSL) that is anchored by Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and the Naval Support Facility Beaufort has continued the work that the REPI Program began there in 2006.  That important work includes managing land encroachment issues, improving wildlife habitats, building climate resilience, and protecting critical land around the bases.  Most recently, the SCLSL was awarded REPI Challenge funding toward the $35 million purchase of Gregorie Neck, which will protect high priority land along training routes for military jets.
The Post and Courier (Beaufort County, SC) reports that Gregorie Neck, a massive 4,400-acre track of undeveloped waterfront property in Jasper County, South Carolina, has been bought by The Nature Conservancy after being awarded a $6 million grant as part of Fiscal Year 2024 REPI Challenge funds.  As part of the largest undeveloped wetland ecosystems on the Atlantic Coast, Gregorie Neck will be placed under a conservation easement with Beafort-based Open Land Trust and will bridge conservation efforts from the Savannah River Basin to the Ace Basin to significantly limit development, which has been an intense threat to the area in recent years.  The acquisition of this property will help to prevent incompatible development near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and permanently protect water quality and wildlife for over 13 miles of river frontage.

January 2024

The Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute (College Station, Texas) reports that the DOD REPI Program recently announced over $141 million in grants through the new America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC).  The 74 new grants will support projects that conserve, restore, and connect habitats for wildlife while improving community and installation resilience across 46 states and three U.S. territories. The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) partners with the REPI Program to support the dual mission of military readiness and environmental sustainability in Texas. The REPI Program has contributed over $5.2 million to seven ATBC projects in the state, including $723,000 to the Camp Bullis Sentinel Landscape in San Antonio.
Pacific Daily News (Hagatna, Guam) reports that nearly 100 volunteers removed at least 7,000 pounds of trash and replaced invasive species with native trees to clean up and beautify the 1000 Steps trail in Guam.  In coordination with the Guam Department of Agriculture, the event was organized by Tåno, Tåsi, yan Todu, a non-profit organization working with local communities to restore and protect ecosystems across the Marianas. This project was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with funding support from DOD’s REPI Program as part of the Joint Region Marianas REPI initiative.   “Removing the invasive African tulips and replacing them with native species is one of many things we can do to support our rich and unique limestone forests,” said Christine Fejeran, Chief of the Guam Department of Agriculture Forestry and Soil Resources Division.
The Highlands News-Sun (Sebring, Florida) reported that the DOD’s REPI Program announced recipients for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 REPI Challenge. Through the FY 2024 REPI Challenge, the REPI Program contributed $704,000 to Archbold Biological Station to support fire management for enhanced resilience in the Avon Park Air Force Range Sentinel Landscape, including an ecosystem restoration team to build regional capacity for fire management within the Sentinel Landscape. In addition to the DOD REPI Program funding, Archbold received $312,000 in grant funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s America the Beautiful Challenge to support this regional fire management effort.