DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
Chapters:Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11IntroductionCase StudiesAcknowledgements
Chapter 10 Case Studies

Partnerships: Fort Bragg, Pope AFB, Camp Mackall

Invasive Weed Management: The Fort Bragg Non-Invasive Plant Management Plan and North Carolina Sandhills Weed Management Area

Together, Fort Bragg, Pope afb, and Camp Mackall encompass more than 160,000 acres, and compose the largest tract of longleaf pinewiregrass ecosystem in the Sandhills physiographic region of southeastern North Carolina. With less than 3 percent of the historic longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem remaining today, these Department of Defense (DoD) facilities and their neighboring federal, state and private landowners play an important role in conserving rare species diversity in the Sandhills. More than 1,500 documented occurrences of 58 federal and/or state listed threatened, endangered and at-risk plant species have been made on the installations alone.

Most of these rare plants are vulnerable to direct and indirect impacts of nonnative invasive plant species (NIS). In 2003, proactive NIS management was initiated on these installations not only for its many environmental, monetary, and mission-related benefits, but also to meet numerous applicable compliance requirements and policy guidance (e.g., Executive Order 13112—Invasive Species; Army Policy Guidance for Management and Control of Invasive Species; North Carolina Noxious Weed Regulations; Endangered Species Act; the Army Strategy for the Environment). This case study describes the approaches that have been used to advance NIS management on the installations and with partners in the region, including; development of an exhaustive baseline survey, drafting of an installation Integrated Non-native Invasive Plant Management Plan (INISMP), and the implementation of strategic management actions to respond rapidly to new invasive species. Finally, it describes an effort in 2006 to establish a regional cooperative Weed Management Area (WMA) involving the North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership, thereby greatly expanding the effectiveness of NIS control and management in the entire North Carolina Sandhills.

NIS Survey

Knowledge of NIS distribution and abundance on the installations had previously been limited to roadside observations, sparse land condition trend analysis data, and anecdotal observations. After establishing the scope of the problem, the installations then launched a ground-based survey in 2004, targeting 96 NIS known or likely to occur within the region and directly or indirectly impacting the installation's military mission, land use sustainability, and threatened, endangered, and at-risk species. NIS presence and percent cover were recorded at more than five thousand plots. The design not only ensured a somewhat equal coverage of data across the installations, it also provided detailed information where it was most important; both of these results were critical for developing accurate maps of nis distribution. The survey identified 39 different NIS within approximately 45 percent of the plots. Of the areas estimated to have NIS present most (~99 percent) were estimated to have a combined percent cover less than 25 percent. Dense nis infestations (cover estimates >50 percent) were present on less than one percent of the surveyed areas. The distribution and abundance maps generated from the survey data formed the basis for making informed management decisions and developing the Integrated Non-native Invasive Plant SpeciesManagement Plan (INISMP).

Integrated NIS Management Plan Development

The overall approach to NIS management adopted in the INISMP was based on a strategy of prevention, early detection, prioritized management, monitoring, and assessment. Once NIS become well established, management is increasingly difficult and cost prohibitive. The most effective and economical approach to managing nis is through proactive prevention, early detection, and control of new invasions. The methods of control recommended in the INISMP were based on the concept of integrated weed management, which promotes using a suite of different control methods (biological, cultural, chemical, or mechanical) in a mutually supportive manner to achieve the most economically and ecologically effective combination that meets management goals. Evaluating the success of management actions is important to determine how management should be adapted in the future. Adaptive management is made possible by continuously monitoring nis, and changing management actions in light of observations and new information. The development of the Fort Bragg INISMP included the following steps:

  • Documenting installation land management areas
  • Inventorying these land management areas to assess NIS abundance and distribution
  • Identifying management goals for land management areas based on use and stakeholder input
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  • Developing NIS management goals based on land management area goals and nis distribution and abundance
  • Identifying NIS management actions necessary to meet NIS management goals
  • Prioritizing NIS management actions
  • Identifying methods for monitoring NIS and evaluating the success of management actions

This approach ensured that the management goals and recommendations within the INISMP were consistent with the installations' missions, as well as relevant laws and regulations. Furthermore, it satisfied the Army requirement to prioritize management objectives and actions, as well as integrate NIS management within the context of the goals and objectives of installation Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs). The INISMP has been an invaluable resource for communicating varied stakeholder concerns about NIS issues, identifying parties responsible for NIS management in different areas, justifying budget requests, and determining what management actions should occur where and when.

Prioritizing of NIS Management Actions

Because the NIS management needs invariably exceed available funds, NIS management requires difficult decisions be made about land use and management. These decisions are made easier by objectively assessing potential impacts of nis at particular sites and prioritizing Management Actions accordingly. Prioritized actions are also beneficial in that they direct limited management funds to areas in most critical need of management. To determine which sites were in greatest need of management, all relevant NIS management criteria were incorporated in a multi-criteria prioritization model. Prioritization criteria included:

  • Potential impact on threatened, endangered and at-risk species or their habitats
  • Potential impact on military mission
  • Potential impact on established land management goals and land use sustainability
  • Cost of management action, consequences of delay in initiating management action, feasibility
  • Availability of effective control methods

This approach ensured that near- and long-term management actions identified in the INISMP will be implemented in the most ecologically and economically effective manner (Figure 1).


Monitoring was identified as a necessary part of overall NIS management, as it would allow the installations to quantitatively assess changes in NIS populations and evaluate the effectiveness of control measures. Consequently, the INISMP calls for collection and analysis of monitoring data to determine whether NIS management goals have been met. If goals have not been met, changes to nisManagement Actions will be considered and implemented as part of an adaptive management strategy.

Early Detection/Rapid Response Program

Effective and cost-efficient NIS management requires the immediate eradication of small populations before they can spread. The exhaustive survey data showed that local eradication of certain NIS was feasible on Fort Bragg, Camp Mackall, and Pope AFB at relatively little expense. Consequently, ten highly invasive NIS occurring in few locations (<50 infestations) and/or low abundances were targeted for eradication via an early detection/rapid response program. Species not currently known to occur in the Sandhills ecoregion but having the potential to become established are also included in the Early Detection/Rapid Response Program. This species-specific approach complements the otherwise site-specific approach adopted in the INISMP.

NIS Management Partnerships Among DoD and Neighboring Land Stewards

While staff members were preparing the INISMP, it became apparent that DoD nis management efforts need to reach beyond the installation boundaries to reduce the long-term magnitude and cost of NIS impacts. Otherwise, a constant influx of propagules from outside the installations' borders jeopardizes the success of onpost control efforts. In response the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC-CERL), with funding from the DoD Legacy Program, worked with the North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership to establish the North Carolina Sandhills Weed Management Area (NCSWMA) in 2006. The NCSWMA represents a diverse group of land managers who can provide the partnerships, shared responsibilities, increased efficiency, and collective stakeholder vision necessary for successful regional NIS management. Members of the NCSWMA share expertise in invasive plant management and work together to develop regional strategies for budgeting, investigating, managing, and restoring areas with NIS infestations. The NCSWMA may well serve as a model for other military installations seeking to promote the long-term sustainability of training lands. More details on the NCSWMA may be found at:

© Copyright 2008. NatureServe.

About This Case Study's Author
By Janet Bracey Gray
Endangered Species Branch
Fort Bragg, NC
Phone: 910-396-2544

Matthew Hohmann
U.S. Army ERDC-CERL, Champaign, IL
Phone: 800- 872-2375

Peter Frank
Invasive Species Management, Inc.
Chicago, IL
Phone: 217-493-3335

Pete Campbell
North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership
Southern Pines, NC
Phone: 910-695-3323

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