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

Funding: NAS Patuxent River

Situated on the western shore of Southern Maryland at the confluence of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay, nas Patuxent River is a rich island of biological diversity in a rapidly growing Saint Mary's County. The base is the premier Naval aviation test and evaluation facility and includes the Navy's Test Pilot School.

Management Challenges

As with many military installations, there are constant challenges in managing the installation natural resources program. At nas Patuxent River these include:

  • Overall funding and manpower
  • Development pressures (inside and outside the fence), exacerbated by being a receiving activity in several successive Base Realignment and Closure rounds
  • Regionalization of naval installations and creation of a new claimancy (Commander, Naval Installations, cni) for naval shore stations, resulting in more bureaucracy and fewer resources
  • Securing reliable funding for multi-year projects or long-term efforts
  • Lack of resources for routine monitoring (to follow-up inventory phase)
  • Major reduction of centralized Geographic Information Systems (gis) support services
  • No legal requirement or lack of sufficient drivers for protection of state-listed threatened and endangered species
  • Misguided or misinformed “multiple use” advocates and “healthy forest” proponents, as well as pressure to increase consumptive uses for generation of revenue.


Notwithstanding these challenges, nas Patuxent has been successful in implementing much of its Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, some highlights of which include:

  • Completion of a comprehensive floral and rare species inventory on approximately 15,000 acres on three parcels of land, including invertebrates
  • Development of rare species management strategies
  • Completion of comprehensive inventory of invasive plant species and development of control strategies
  • Development of a very robust Geographic Information System with over 200 nr/cr data layers
  • Effective use of modern technology for natural resources management
  • Narrowing of utility rights of way for buried utilities (sewer, water, electric) through forested areas, allowing forest canopy closure and reduction of forest fragmentation impact to area-sensitive, interior-dwelling species.

Strategies for Funding Success

  • Be completely open to any help you can get, traditional or not. This may include the use of volunteers, interns, temporary hires, co-ops, etc. Actively search out opportunities for such help. At nas Patuxent River we have successfully used Boy Scouts and other civilian volunteers for on base projects. On-base military members ordered by the federal court to community service are used in our invasive species control/eradication program.
  • Constantly seek op funding (op = Other People!). Examples include using mitigation funds for on-base construction projects (e.g., wetlands mitigation, biological surveys, etc.). Local colleges are interested in pursuing on-base natural resources research projects either for free or for a very small fee.
  • Actively pursue Sikes Act cooperative agreements (typically established with private non-profit environmental organizations or universities). These agreements usually provide for work at a fraction of the cost of commercial contracts.
  • Keep looking for partnership opportunities that will allow for leveraging available resources.
  • Always be willing to share your data. With the exception of the exact location of protected species, all biological data should be made available to interested parties. For example, all biological inventory data should be shared with the state natural heritage office for inclusion in its natural heritage data base. This willingness to share data can lead to new opportunities for partnerships.
  • Integrate/coordinate your inrmp with as many other plans as possible (e.g. base master plan, training/testing/operations plans, etc.).
  • Get to know your installation's military mission and try to link everything to it.
  • Be open to new natural resources management approaches that save money while enhancing biodiversity. At nas Patuxent River, the plan to narrow utility rights of way (row) for buried utilities through forested areas is an excellent example of this approach:
    • ı Historically, 150-foot-wide fire breaks were been established along rows for buried sewer, water, and electric utilities.
    • Considerable costly maintenance was required for these corridors (mowing and other vegetation control)
    • Excessively wide corridors served to fragment the larger forest block on the station, thus reducing wildlife habitat, especially for migratory birds.
    • nas Patuxent River is situated in an ecosystem where forest wildfire is virtually unknown. Thus the wide firebreaks were not needed.
    • The base began a program to reduce the size of the fire breaks from 150 to 50 feet, thus eliminating the need to mow and otherwise maintain hundreds of acres of former fire breaks. No impact to the military mission occurred as a result of this decision, great maintenance cost savings were achieved, and a significant improvement of the habitat for biodiversity conservation was realized.


The successful natural resources manager must constantly be on the alert for new, innovative sources of funding. In some cases, partnering with other organizations can be a source of funding. In others, simply finding a cheaper and more effective way of accomplishing long-established practices may yield substantial cost savings.

© Copyright 2008. NatureServe.

About This Case Study's Author
By Kyle Rambo
Natural Resources Manager
Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland
Phone: 301-342-3670

NatureServe DoD