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More Military Bases Join ‘Sentinel Landscapes’ for Readiness Enhancement

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2016 — Numerous military installations have joined the Sentinel Landscapes partnership to maintain military readiness while preserving local agriculture, natural resources and wildlife habitat, Defense Department officials announced today.

Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida; Camp Ripley, Minnesota; and the Eastern North Carolina region, which comprises numerous military installations, joined the cooperative partnership between DoD and the departments of Interior and Agriculture, DoD officials said.

In July 2013, the departments launched the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership through a memorandum of understanding to meet three critical goals: preserve working and agricultural lands, restore and protect wildlife habitat, and assist with military readiness. The first designees were Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, Fort Huachuca in Arizona and Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, officials said.

Vital to National Defense

Through the Sentinel Landscapes partnership, the federal agencies work with state, local and private partners to preserve working and natural lands important to the nation’s defense mission. Protecting and restoring habitat around military bases so that at-risk species can survive will help provide for unimpeded training and sustain military readiness, White House officials said.

"What makes this announcement so significant," said Pete Potochney, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, "is the benefit these partnerships provide to our national security.”

“Not only does the collaboration around Avon Park, Camp Ripley, and throughout Eastern North Carolina ensure the continued availability of critical military installations and ranges,” he said, “but this partnership also preserves working lands that provide food and fiber to our nation and sustains key natural resources that help to ensure water quality and provide climate change resilience. The Sentinel Landscapes partnership is an innovative initiative that protects critical DoD missions through efficient government and private-sector collaboration. This is a true win for warfighters and taxpayers."

Partnership Core Characteristics

Led at the local level, stakeholders work together to ensure the Sentinel Landscape possesses three fundamental components, according to the partnership’s website:

-- Military installations or ranges anchor each Sentinel Landscape. Installations and ranges benefit from the compatible land use and conservation provided by the lands in the Sentinel Landscape;

-- Defined landscape is associated with the anchor installation’s “mission footprint.” Within this landscape, government agencies, private parties, and non-government organizations coordinate their programs in support of ranching, farming, forestry and conservation with the full involvement and partnership of the landowners in the landscape; and

-- A coordinated and collaborative strategy or plan provides incentives and recognition to participating landowners, who adopt and sustain land uses compatible with the military mission while providing tangible benefits to conservation and working lands within the landscape.

Benefits of Newly Designated Bases

DoD officials said these new locations, listed below, encompass vital military ranges needed to test and train to meet threats as they arise, as well as support strong and effective conservation partnerships.

--  At Avon Park Air Force Range Sentinel Landscape in Florida, 24 local, state and federal partners have committed more than $8.25 million to protect or enhance 1,926 acres. Avon Park is the Air Force’s primary training range east of the Mississippi River and is a training resource for all branches of the military and state and local law enforcement. The Sentinel Landscape is also a biodiversity hot spot and home to the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge. Avon Park and the surrounding area are part of a strong agricultural tradition with numerous cattle ranches, citrus farms, croplands and working forests.

-- At the headwaters of the Mississippi River, Camp Ripley in Minnesota is the primary training center for National Guard units from seven states. The rural and agricultural character of the landscape helps protect the quality of one of Minnesota’s most important drinking water sources. More than 40 miles of the Mississippi River are involved, with 16 local, state and federal partners sharing responsibility for protecting water quality. They have committed more than $5.18 million to protect or enhance 34,903 acres, which is expected to protect Camp Ripley’s training mission, the integrity of the region’s natural resources, and provide expanded access to hunting, fishing and recreation.

-- In Eastern North Carolina, military-related activity is the second-largest economic driver behind agriculture, and the area is home to significant wildlife areas and 29 federally listed threatened or endangered species. To protect national defense, preserve valuable regional resources, and benefit local economies, the Eastern North Carolina Sentinel Landscape has 20 local, state, and federal partners that have committed more than $10.71 million to protect or enhance 42,971 acres. Through the Sentinel Landscapes Program, partners are helping pioneer innovative approaches to land protection, restoration and management.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
Distribution channels: Military