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News Release


Release No: 290-96
May 17, 1996


Vice President Al Gore's office will present the Defense Department and the Interior Department Hammer Awards for their cooperative management of the desert, the highest honor accorded by the President's National Performance Review program, popularly known as government reinvention.

The honors will be presented as part of day-long activities on Tuesday, May 21, at Fort Irwin, Calif. Activities will include a tour of military training areas and endangered species habitat, a briefing on base management for military effectiveness and resource protection, and presentation of Hammer Awards.

The Clinton Administration has viewed the California Desert cooperative management program as a reinvention laboratory, one of a number of such laboratories seen as models for government effectiveness and interagency collaboration.

Accepting the awards will be Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Sherri W. Goodman, who will also join leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines for an unprecedented meeting to discuss the progress on their cooperative management of the million of acres of the Mojave Desert. Focus on Land Conservation Coexisting with Military Training

"This partnership ushers in a new era of land conservation, where the Defense Department and the Interior Department are partners in preserving this vast and amazing land we call the California Desert, Babbitt said. The plain fact is that the desert tortoise and the M-1 Tank are coexisting beautifully. Military preparedness and environmental protection are being intertwined in the deserts of California.

The Department of Defense has provided about $5 million in funding from the Legacy Program for bases in the Mojave Desert, which is designed to promote sound natural resources stewardship on military bases, while achieving the military's primary mission.

The passage of the California Desert Protection Act in 1994 served as a catalyst for an interagency approach to management in the desert. Agencies involved in this coordinated management process include Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Biological Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and all four U.S. military services, in partnership with the State of California.

The military bases in the Mojave are critical to readiness. It's here our troops trained for Desert Storm. Sustaining our nation's military training and testing lands through ecosystem management is among the most important of DoD's environmental goals, said Goodman. Understanding and protecting the Mojave helps us achieve military readiness in harmony with nature.

The event will be hosted by Brig. Gen. William S. Wallace, commanding general, Fort Irwin/National Training Center. Other bases in the desert include China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center, Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Base, Marine Corps Logistics Base - Barstow and Edwards Air Force Base.

Lands managed by the Department of Interior include Death Valley National Park, Mojave National Preserve, and Lake Mead National Recreational Area, along with large Bureau of Land Management lands and wilderness areas.

Natural resource experts from DoD and DOI will provide a briefing to Babbitt and Goodman, as well as invited guests and members of the press, on the status of the cooperative land management programs in the desert.

Media Itinerary

News Media will be given a tour of Desert Tortoise Observation Park and military training sites, among other events at Fort Irwin. Press will be greeted at the Fort Irwin main gate visitor's center. *Agenda for May 21, 1996 : 9:00 a.m. Arrive Ft. Irwin Main Gate Visitor's Center 9:15-9:20 Enroute to Desert Tortoise Observation Park 9:20-9:45 Receive briefing on Desert Tortoise 9:45-10:00 Enroute to Military Operations Center 10:00-10:45 Modified Command Briefing 10:45-10:50 Enroute to Training Area 10:50-11:30 Tour Training Area 11:30-11:35 Enroute to Ceremony site

11:35-12:30 p.m. Lunch (pay as you go) 12:30-12:45 Set up at ceremony site (same building as lunch) 12:55-14:45 Ceremony/Demonstration 14:45-15:00 Media Availability * Directions to Fort Irwin with contact number is attached:

The California Desert is a very significant, complex ecosystem which is also home to a full spectrum of military activities, Babbitt said. It is a great challenge to ensure a strong military and natural resource protection -- but it's happening here.


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