Addressing Priorities for Fish and Wildlife Conservation with Innovative Military Lands Partnerships

Military conservation partnerships in the United States are providing opportunities to confront large-scale conservation challenges. The military services manage natural resources on approximately 25 million acres in the U.S. and these lands have the highest biodiversity of any federal land type.  The Sikes Act (Act) directs the military services to cooperate with state and federal agencies in conservation planning. The Act has continually evolved to further enhance mechanisms to promote cooperative conservation activities.  We have seen unprecedented growth in state and federal collaboration with military installations over the past decade.  During this time, military conservation partnerships have expanded in scale from installation-level to regional and national agreements with military departments.  These changes have been driven by the need to achieve both greater cost efficiencies and larger-scale conservation benefits.  We will explore a variety of models for collaboration with military entities, with an emphasis on those models that operate at regional or national scales.  Presenters will address the extent to which the vision of achieving fish and wildlife objectives at larger spatial and temporal scales has been met.  We seek to: (1) describe the conservation impact of these new approaches, (2) synthesize the lessons learned, and (3) provide recommendations for enhancing current and future partnerships that leverage existing resources to maximize conservation outcomes.

1:10PM Efficiency, Outcomes and Opportunities: A Synthesis of Recent Military Partnerships Operating at Landscape Scales
  Jarrad Kosa
Over the past decade, enhanced efforts to expand collaborative efforts between military installations and state and federal natural resource agencies have proven highly effective at achieving conservation outcomes. Military installations within the United States have maintained landscapes characterized by high levels of biodiversity, extraordinary numbers of rare and endemic species, and exceptional opportunities for wildlife-based recreation. Natural resource agencies can leverage their existing capabilities and experiences with conservation and management efforts at broader scales to engage in partnerships that achieve conservation outcomes that might otherwise not be possible. Recent cooperative efforts suggest that the fish and wildlife conservation and management community can expand upon these successes by: (1) better understanding the existing tools for collaboration; (2) enhancing agency engagement in the development and review of Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans; (3) fostering relationships between resource agencies and military partners at the installation, regional and national levels; (4) using recent collaborative experiences as case studies for developing outcome-oriented conservation strategies; and (5) supporting further innovations and additional capacities provided by legislative authorities, particularly the Sikes Act.
1:30PM A Military Service Perspective on Achieving Landscape Scale Objectives through Collaboration
  Kevin Porteck
1:50PM Addressing Conservation Challenges in the Intermountain West: Where Missions Intersect
  Pamela Sponholtz, Dustin Casady, Clark Jones, Brian Mihlbachler, Alex Schubert
As part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office works across three states with U.S. Air Force and Department of the Army partners on natural resource management under the Sikes Act. Our collaborative work with our military partners include administration of hunting and fishing programs, noxious weed management, forest fuels reduction and wildlife conservation and management. Projects such as raptor relocation programs to remove birds from airfields to developing conservation agreements for threatened and endangered species, many aspects of our partnership tie in closely to our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mission but also are considered “mission enabling” by our military partners. This unique partnership between our agencies has grown and diversified over the past 5 years. With the growth comes opportunities to stretch our conservation reach but it’s not without its challenges. I share our experiences and examples so that other conservation and natural resource management programs that engage nontraditional partners may be able to learn and benefit from our efforts.
2:10PM A Cooperative Approach to Multi-Species Conservation on Eglin Air Force Base in Florida
  Bill Tate
The US Air Force is steward to millions of acres of lands used for national defense purposes that include a variety of intact ecosystems, including habitat that harbors listed and at risk species. Accounting for nearly three quarters of the 625,000 acres of Air Force lands in Florida, Eglin Air Force Base is home to 15 federally listed species and nearly 100 species of conservation concern. The USFWS network in Florida, consisting of Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Ecological Services offices, refuges, and hatcheries, provides management expertise in ecological monitoring, habitat restoration, species recovery, guidance for mission avoidance and minimization measures, and assistance on public use and recreation management. The goal of the Air Force Florida program is to establish a regional approach to natural resources management that minimizes multiple encroachment threats and alleviates on-installation constraints to provide a landscape to support the military mission. Achieving this goal requires the use of a strong network of conservation-focused partner organizations, including federal and state agencies, universities, private organizations, and NGO’s. Here, we will provide an overview of the utility of partnership formation by highlighting collaborative efforts to achieve conservation goals for Okaloosa darter, reticulated flatwoods salamander, and other species. Collaboration among the Air Force, USFWS, and other partners allows the Air Force to maintain mission flexibility while benefiting the American people through the protection of lands, waters, and at-risk species.
2:30PM U.S. Army Fort McCoy Natural Resource Management Collaboration in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin
  John Noble, Timothy Wilder
Department of Defense installations with significant natural resources are required to develop and implement an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) pursuant to the Sikes Act. Fort McCoy’s INRMP defines the natural resource goals and objectives and describes the landscape management approach for the 60,000-acre Army Materiel Command Total Force Training Center. Fort McCoy is located within the Driftless Region of west central Wisconsin, Monroe County with a diverse landscape comprising of a 7,538-acre impact area, 47,000-acres of forest, 3,475-acres of grassland, 4,400-acres of wetland, 71 stream miles, and 10 lakes. Fort McCoy’s INRMP and Cooperative Plan is a tripartite agreement with the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) underpinning the natural resource partnership. Collaborations and partnerships have played a major role in our natural resource management successes as recognized in the FWS 15th Annual Military Conservation Partner Award in 2019. We will present an overview of our past and continued collaborations including our perspective of collaboration approaches, lessons learned (innovative concepts and mutual partnership benefits from the West Silver Wetland dam removal – Silver Creek stream restoration and the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly mitigation project), and future conservation partnership recommendations.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM A Force Multiplier: The USFWS-USAF Natural Resource Conservation Partnership:
  Leslie Hartsell
Under the auspices of the Sikes Act, the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Department of Defense partner to deliver natural resource conservation on military lands. Since 2013, the cooperative conservation vision of the Sikes Act is realized in the USFWS-USAF Natural Resource Conservation Partnership. Uniquely national in scope, the Partnership is an interagency, federal-to-federal strategy to increase the scope of natural resource conservation. The Partnership implements shared conservation goals, and landscape-level cooperative conservation on 9.8 million acres of land, including 235,000 acres of wetlands, and habitat to 125 federally listed species. The shared priorities of the Partnership include recovery of federally listed species, conservation actions that preclude listing of candidate species, supporting and enhancing outdoor recreational programs, and management toward sustainable ecosystems. USFWS collaborates with Air Force to provide inherently governmental assistance with the development, reviews, updates and implementation of Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, management decisions affecting federal trust species, and assistance with hunting, fishing and recreational programs, to name a few. An overview of the Partnership’s framework, authorities, and examples of successes and challenges could be helpful as a model for other state and federal natural resource agencies.
3:40PM The North Carolina Strategic Plan for Sustaining Military Readiness through Conservation Partnerships
  Marshall Williams
A Strategic Plan for DoD installations in North Carolina was developed that integrates common goals and objectives of the State Wildife Action Plan (SWAP), installation Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs), and all participating land management agencies. A primary objective of the Plan is to enable regional conservation planning that facilitates a coordinated delivery of broad conservation efforts and meets the needs of stakeholder organizations. The stakeholder partnership will facilitate strategic habitat conservation at the landscape level utilizing North Carolina “Cooperative Conservation Blueprint,” and will establish common priorities for conservation areas and working landscapes. The Plan will complement North Carolina’s Wildlife Action Plan, installation INRMPs, and other landscape level conservation strategies, and will facilitate collaboration to restore, manage, and conserve the biodiversity of the region in the face of both climate change and intense development pressure.
4:00PM Law Enforcement Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  Samantha Fleming
The U.S. Air Force has been searching for a conservation law enforcement solution to protect their natural and cultural resources on their installations. After trying multiple law enforcement strategies, the U.S. Air Force approached the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Division of Refuge Law Enforcement for assistance. A partnership has developed after extensive research in to the legal authorities and agreements that allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to enforce laws and regulations on U.S. Air Force installations. This presentation details the development of the law enforcement partnership between the two agencies and the benefits of such a partnership. The presentation will also discuss the legal authorities and the services provided for an installation and will conclude with the potential application to other military branches.

Organizers: Jarrad Kosa

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: October 3, 2019 Time: 1:10 pm - 5:00 pm