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Protecting Endangered Species, National Security at the Avon Park Air Force Range

On Earth Day, the Defense Department's Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program joins the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership to celebrate the power of partnerships to advance climate and installation resilience across the country. Over the last year, DOD has seen remarkable progress in sustaining and restoring threatened, endangered and at-risk species while conducting its mission-essential activities.

A small brown and tan bird perches on a flower stalk in a grassy field.
Grasshopper Sparrow
A grasshopper sparrow sits atop a plant in a prairie and grassland area at Badger Drop Zone on July 26, 2019, at Fort McCoy, Wis. The drop zone is a natural habitat for many rare butterflies and grassland species of birds such as the grasshopper sparrow. Wildlife management at Fort McCoy is coordinated by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
Photo By: Scott Sturkol
VIRIN: 190726-A-OK556-2008C

In the spirit of Earth Day, the programs released the Grasshopper Sparrow Documentary, telling the story of DOD's leading role in conserving threatened and endangered species at Avon Park Air Force Range in south central Florida. The film chronicles the extraordinary efforts to bring back one of the most endangered birds in the United States. 

DOD, in collaboration with the Archbold Biological Station and the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service, has implemented a captive breeding and reintroduction program for the critically endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. These tiny birds are considered the most endangered bird in the United States, having lost most of their prairie habitat to development.  

The Grasshopper Sparrow thrives in the same open prairie environment that the Air Force maintains within the Avon Park Air Force Range to support critical training activities, a partnership that benefits both DOD and the conservation community. Over 40 state and federally listed species can be found across the Avon Park Air Force Range Sentinel Landscape, which partners and landowners work diligently to protect. 

"I am proud of our Sentinel Landscapes Partnership successes for the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow captive breeding and reintroduction efforts at Avon Park Air Force Range," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. "This collaborative partnership brings together the federal government, dedicated landowners, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations to conserve this critically endangered species and its unique habitat." 

"As we celebrate the significant achievements at Avon Park Air Force Range Sentinel Landscape, we hope you'll join us in recognizing our partners all across the country who have worked continuously to enhance natural resources, support conservation, and strengthen military readiness," said Jaime Simon, REPI's communications and partnerships director.

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