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Immediate Release

DOD and Department of the Interior Renew Partnership for Conserving Wildlife and Supporting Military Readiness

Leaders from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior met at the Pentagon on Monday to celebrate the renewal of the Recovery and Sustainment Partnership (RASP) following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year designed to advance the recovery of threatened and endangered species while also supporting national security. 

"The DoD has long understood that protecting military lands and the species that reside there supports military readiness training. Through our renewed partnership with the Department of the Interior, we have confirmed our mutual commitment to proactive, innovative, and collaborative approaches to protect imperiled species while increasing flexibility for military activities," said Brendan Owens, assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment. "We look forward to our continued collaboration and the positive outcomes we can achieve together for national defense and species."

"This longstanding partnership between the Departments of the Interior and Defense demonstrates how collaboration can achieve real-world successes for both military readiness and species conservation," said Shannon Estenoz, assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks. "Under this agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works collaboratively with our military partners to develop innovative conservation plans to conserve at-risk species and achieve recovery goals and objectives for listed species while also supporting national security."

The DoD manages nearly 27 million acres of lands, waters, and airspace that provide critical and realistic environments and conditions to develop and test new technologies and platforms, train service members, and maintain the highest levels of military readiness. The DoD recognizes these lands and waters represent some of the most unique and rare ecosystems and habitats in the world and contain tremendous biodiversity. By sustaining and restoring federally listed and at-risk species, the DoD helps advance species conservation and recovery and prevents the need to list additional species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), enabling the DoD to carry out its national defense mission without encumbrances.

Created in 2018, the RASP has advanced the conservation and recovery of species listed under the ESA through developing and implementing species action plans, collaborative conservation initiatives and innovative policy solutions making collaboration under the ESA more effective. By utilizing ecosystem management approaches that benefit multiple species and establishing long-term conservation commitments, the DoD and the Service create more flexibility for military installations to fulfill their missions, satisfy ESA requirements, and improve conservation outcomes.    

Participants of today’s gathering reviewed the accomplishments of the RASP and celebrated how recovery efforts have increased in number and effectiveness while providing regulatory relief for military readiness. In this spirit, the parties support the continued partnership and collaboration to build on and broaden the numerous successes and innovations achieved to date in enhancing species conservation and recovery while sustaining military readiness.

Link to DoD Recovery and Sustainment Partnership Initiative