DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
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Chapter 5: Balancing Biodiversity Conservation With Multiple Uses

Today's management of military lands is increasingly sophisticated and is the product of a range of influences both direct and indirect. This chapter focuses on incorporating biodiversity management into military land use. But first, with a basic understanding of how military land uses developed over the years – by understanding the legal and sociological origins of today's military land uses – commanders and land managers should be able to successfully incorporate biodiversity management into the installation multiple-use mix.

Training has always been the primary use of military lands. However, since their establishment, military reservations have served additional purposes in response to national priorities, mission needs, public pressure, and advances in land management practices. Military installations – including training and testing lands, ammunition manufacture and storage plants, and depots and terminals – have incorporated forestry, agriculture outleasing, and hunting and fishing land uses into daily operations because they provide a variety of benefits. Military lands are also managed for natural resources, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources, and a range of environmental compliance related issues.

Forest Operations and Agriculture Outleasing

Forestry was one of the first non-military training land uses to be incorporated and was part of an expanded military use. World War I demonstrated the military's need for wood products and in 1918 the military established its first forestry program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, for the purpose of producing timber.

What is Multiple Use?
The Department of Defense (DoD) defines multiple use as "[T]he integrated, coordinated, and compatible use of natural resources so as to achieve a sustainable yield of a mix of desired goods, services, and direct and indirect benefits while protecting the primary purpose of supporting and enhancing the military mission and observing stewardship responsibilities."

(Source: DoDI 4715.3, Environmental Conservation Program, Enclosure 3 Definitions. 3 May 1996.)

In the first half of the twentieth century, military reservations were not particularly extensive, but erosion and wildfires were ongoing problems. Woodlots and forested areas had to be managed due to the buildup of fuels, and Forest Service advisors, following their mandate of water supply protection and continuous timber production, recommended wildfire and erosion control measures through active forest management programs that included timber production.

In the 1940s there were about 3 million acres (excluding Alaska) under military control, but by the 1960s the figure had increased to nearly 30 million acres. This large land area required the knowledge and experience of professional land managers, foresters, and agronomists. Subsequent installation land management under these professionals progressed beyond land stabilization and wildfire management, to non-military uses including timber production and agriculture outleasing for crops and grazing. These added land uses not only helped to maintain military lands in good condition and suitable for training, but also saved military labor costs and provided financial support for the forestry and agriculture outleasing programs. In many cases, lands acquired by the military were often in poor condition and unsuitable for training. Many were former farm lands or otherwise devoid of forest or native vegetation, and it was critical that these lands be revegetated. Under the direction of Forest Service, many of these lands were converted to forest, which was then managed for timber production.

In 1956 Congress provided authority for the military departments to retain the receipts from the sale of forest products, and this led to a significant increase in timber production by the military – between 1956 and 1963, gross income from military forest lands increased from $10.5 million to $26.7 million. Today, surplus funds (after installation forestry program expenses and state entitlements1 are paid) are deposited into the DoD Forestry Reserve Account. The DoD retains a minimum balance in this account to fund emergency forestry program contingencies (e.g. to pay the salaries of forestry employees in years of low timber sales or low timber prices). But the DoD annually returns some of the excess funds in the account to the individual services for forestry enhancement programs, or in some cases, for general natural resources projects (LRMP 2005, Part 3-24).

Cattle grazing at Beale AFB, California. Beale manages extensive cattle grazing leases on many grasslands that serve as buffers for military operations, such as performed by the Precision Acquisition Vehicle Entry (PAVE), Phased Array Warning System (PAWS) radar seen in the distance that is used to detect and track sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

World War II also saw the introduction of outleasing of military lands for agriculture. For a fee, farmers could apply to lease military lands around airfields, ammunition storage areas, and other grasslands or arable land where grazing or crop production would not interfere with military activities. At first, income from outleases was deposited into the U.S. Treasury. It was not until later that outleasing became the Reimbursable Agriculture and Grazing Program, allowing the services to retain agricultural receipts and use them to fund natural resources projects at individual installations.

The establishment of the reimbursable program had the effect of increasing incentives to offer land for lease and outleasing was promoted by the military as an inexpensive land management option. The lessees often provided in-kind services on leased lands, often in lieu of cash rent, such as mowing, weed and brush control, fence construction and repair, drainage maintenance, fire lane construction, and rodent control. Agriculture and grazing operations on the leased lands were also important for fire control because the underbrush and grasses that could fuel fires were reduced.

Proceed to Next Section: Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Uses

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About This Chapter's Author
Dorothy M. Gibb is the Technical Director at A.H. Environmental Consultants.

Joseph S. Ferris is the Principal Environmental Consultant at Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Literature Cited
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