The U.S. Departments of Defense, Agriculture and the Interior announced the addition of three military bases to the Sentinel Landscape Partnership.
What is the Sentinel Landscape Partnership?
A conservation effort begun in 2013 to improve military readiness, protect at-risk and endangered species, enhance critical wildlife habitat and restore working agricultural and natural lands in the Southeast and Midwest.
Sentinel Landscapes are working or natural lands important to the nation's defense mission—places where preserving the working and rural character of key landscapes strengthens the economies of farms, ranches, and forests; conserves habitat and natural resources; and protects vital test and training missions conducted on those military installations that anchor such landscapes.
What bases have been added to the Sentinel Landscape Partnership?
1. Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida. Within the Avon Park Air Force Range Sentinel Landscape in Central Florida, 26 federal, state and local partners have committed more than $8 million to protect or enhance nearly 2,000 acres of working agricultural and natural lands. Avon Park Air Force Range is the U.S. Air Force's primary training range east of the Mississippi River. A biodiversity "hot spot" and home to the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge, Avon Park and its surrounding area is also part of a strong agricultural region including cattle ranches, citrus farms, crop farms and forests.
2. Camp Ripley, Minnesota, is the primary National Guard training center for seven states. Sixteen federal, state and local partners have committed more than $5 million within the Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape to protect or enhance nearly 35,000 acres of working agricultural and natural lands.
3. Training grounds in Eastern North Carolina. Military-related activity is the second largest economic driver, behind agriculture, in Eastern North Carolina, a region that is home to significant wildlife habitat and 29 federally-listed threatened or endangered species. The Eastern North Carolina Sentinel Landscapes has 20 federal, state and local partners that have committed nearly $11 million to protect or enhance nearly 43,000 acres.
Why is this a good thing?
"By using USDA's conservation programs to protect viable farmland, rangeland, forestland and grasslands from development around these military bases and training sites we ensure that our military has flexible locations for training while at the same time protecting water resources and prime wildlife habitat on working lands,” said Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, in a media statement.
"What makes this announcement so significant is the benefit these partnerships provide to our national security," said Pete Potochney, performing the duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment. "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, 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.”
Are there any other designated bases?
The new Sentinel Landscapes join three previously designated bases, including Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and NAS Patuxent River-Atlantic Test Ranges in Maryland.
Want more information?
Visit http://www.sentinellandscapes.org for more information on the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership.