Nature Conservancy and U.S. Army Partner to Protect Endangered Bird Habitat near Camp Bullis
Newest cooperative agreement benefits endangered golden-cheeked warbler and ensures continued operations at critical military training facility
State director of The Nature Conservancy of Texas
The Nature Conservancy and the United States Army have entered into a formal cooperative agreement to identify and protect habitat for endangered species surrounding Camp Bullis, one of the nation’s most important military medic training facilities.
The agreement, known as an Army Compatible Use Buffer, or ACUB, will permanently conserve important undeveloped areas of habitat outside of the Camp for the golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered songbird, and help Camp Bullis continue its critical Defense Department medical and combat training operations.
The rapid development of the land surrounding Camp Bullis has been a concern to the Army. Because of the military's longstanding stewardship of habitat on the post, Camp Bullis now supports a robust and growing population of golden-cheeked warblers. If key remaining habitat within the biological recovery unit where the Camp is located is not protected, the continuing increase of the species at Camp Bullis could make training there more challenging in the future.
“The Nature Conservancy is honored to partner once again with the Army to ensure endangered species habitat remains undeveloped,” said Laura Huffman, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Texas. “For nearly 20 years we’ve worked with the military at Fort Hood to protect golden-cheeked warbler habitat. This latest agreement reaffirms that our two organizations have a lot in common and can forge dynamic, effective partnerships that result in measurable conservation benefits for endangered species.”
“This cooperative agreement is essential to allowing us to continue our Defense Department training missions at Camp Bullis,” said Colonel Mary E. Garr, Garrison Commander at Fort Sam Houston. “With The Nature Conservancy’s help, we look forward to acquiring conservation easements outside of the Camp that will protect habitat for endangered species and ensure a realistic environment for medical field training and tactical combat operations training for units of all branches of the United States Armed Forces.”
Under the terms of the five-year agreement, the Conservancy will lead efforts on behalf of the Army to identify land within the golden-cheeked warbler recovery unit surrounding Camp Bullis with appropriate species habitat. The Conservancy will then help secure conservation easements—permanent land-use agreements that limit development and preserve wildlife habitat—with willing landowners who are compensated for the restrictions on their property.
These easements will create permanently protected areas outside the Camp and will provide mitigation credits, allowing Camp Bullis to continue its military mission by avoiding or reducing restrictions on training areas imposed under terms of the Endangered Species Act. The easements may also benefit the Edwards Aquifer, regional water quality, and other rare and endangered plants and animals unique to the region.
The nearly 28,000-acre Camp Bullis is home to five known endangered species—the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, Madla’s cave meshweaver and two cave-dwelling beetles. The facility straddles Bexar and Comal counties and is a sub-installation of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
The post provides maneuvering grounds and serves as a combat training facility for active duty and reserve Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force units. It has long been considered the premier medic field training facility in the United States. More than 160,000 soldiers train each year at Camp Bullis and by 2011, every medic in the Armed Forces will conduct field training at the Camp.
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.In the Lone Star State, The Nature Conservancy of Texas owns more than 35 nature preserves and conservation projects and assists private landowners to conserve their land through more than 100 voluntary land-preservation agreements.With partners, The Nature Conservancy of Texas has conserved 750,000 acres for wildlife habitat across the state.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.