Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Alex Beehler today signed an agreement with Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment Merlyn Carlson near Fort Riley, Kansas, to establish a national Defense Department-Department of Agriculture partnership to promote land conservation near military bases.
“This is a win/win partnership,” said Beehler. “It will greatly enhance the sustainability of our installations and the working landscapes surrounding those installations. The Defense Department recognizes that the viability of our installations is directly linked to working with others outside our fencelines.”
This partnership will marry Agriculture Department efforts with the Defense Department’s national Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) conservation buffer program. The REPI Program helps preserve land around installations by providing funds, so that the installations can to enter into agreements to acquire conservation easements.
Carlson called the partnership “good news for the environment” and said that the national partnership will allow the Defense Department to better harness various programs, which are designed to assist private land owners and managers on conservation concerns, on behalf of military conservation buffer efforts across the country.
The encroachment of urban development has posed an increasing threat in recent years to military training land and surrounding areas. The Defense Department has responded by working creatively with other partners to promote compatible land use options and more informed regional planning.
Defense Department point of contact is Chris Isleib, (703) 697-5131.