So when a Facebook friend from Texas asked about The Nature Conservancy's involvement on military bases, it seemed like a perfect topic to address in our Ask the Conservationist column.
We invite you to read on and when you're done, send us your questions on any conservation subject for one of the Conservancy's hundreds of staff scientists. (Note: We regret that we can only answer one or two questions each month and that we cannot answer the others offline.)
Rudy G. Castro from McKinney, TX writes:
Are you involved with U.S. military bases to promote, guide or teach the base managers about their impact on their local environment?
Debbie Keller, the Conservancy's liaison to the Department of Defense responds:
We may seem like unlikely partners, but yes, The Nature Conservancy is actively working with the Department of Defense (DoD) to manage habitats in and around military bases for biodiversity and ecosystem health.
Defense testing and military training require isolated areas, which are often wilderness areas void of humans but filled with a large number of natural species. Urban and suburban encroachment has become increasingly problematic for both military installations and ecosystems nationwide.
The Conservancy assists the DoD with management plans for threatened and endangered species, habitat management with prescribed fire and invasive species removal. At times we provide the research and best management practices, as well as assist staff at military bases across the country.
The Conservancy also works to buffer the installations with conservation lands. Working with the DoD program known as Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative, the Conservancy helps achieve permanent land protection surrounding bases in order to provide conservation habitat and wildlife corridors.
In Florida, for instance, the Conservancy completed an analysis of natural areas surrounding 10 of Florida's defense installations. The study sought land protection opportunities in a 10-mile zone around each base that could benefit both nature and the military.
These partnerships are the result of collaboration and relationships that will continue to protect the biodiversity both on and off the bases. Working side-by-side, Conservancy staff and defense staff train each other — and local communities — to minimize habitat and species impacts both on and off the bases.