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Integrating State Wildlife Action Plans and INRMPs.

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The Department of Defense (DoD) has management responsibility for approximately 30 million acres (12 million hectares) throughout the United States. The Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a et seq.) requires DoD to prepare and implement an integrated natural resource management plan (INRMP) for each military installation that has significant natural resources. These plans coordinate natural resource conservation and military operational readiness requirements, and they are prepared in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the appropriate state wildlife agency, with input from other interested stakeholders.

In May 2006, the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment), with support from the DoD Legacy Resource Management Program, convened a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) and INRMP Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia. The purpose of this workshop was to bring together natural resource managers from military installations, state wildlife agencies of four states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina), and the Fish and Wildlife Service to integrate the state and DoD natural resource management plans--SWAPs and INRMPs--by identifying common issues. The workshop goal was to establish regional partnerships and pilot projects that would facilitate coordinated natural resource management in the southeast.

Featured presentations by Alex Beehler, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environment, Safety and Occupational Heath, and Secretary Bill Ross of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources described the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS) created in the summer of 2005, and possible linkages between the partnership and this workshop. Following these opening remarks, presentations were given by Dave Chadwick (Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies), Peter Boice (DoD Conservation Program), Scott Van Horn (North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission), Pete Campbell (Fish and Wildlife Service), and John Townsend (Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune) describing their respective organizations and their approaches to cooperative regional planning.

The rest of the day was spent in breakout groups answering fundamental questions relating to the integration of SWAPs and INRMPS. During a working dinner, participants were encouraged to sit with members from their respective regions and consider possible pilot projects. Groups generally broke into groups by state, and they crafted a variety of project ideas.

On the second day, participants identified four projects and divided into groups to identify key issues and the next steps needed to ensure implementation. A summary of each pilot project follows:

Carolina Species at-Risk

The goal of the Carolina Species at Risk project is to promote conservation actions for these species and their habitats on and near military installations in North and South Carolina to help eliminate the need for Endangered Species Act protection. The project will identify, map, and assess the region's most important species at-risk and develop a conservation partnership. This approach will help state agencies focus on target species and habitats contained in their SWAPs. As appropriate, the group may develop a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) or CCA with Assurances (CCAA).

Florida SWAP-INRMP Integration

Participants have already met several times to develop model SWAP-INRMP objectives. They have agreed to meet annually near Eglin Air Force Base Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Avon Park Air Force Range to assess INRMP implementation and compliance with the Sikes Act, and to discuss integration of State Wildlife Action Plans and INRMPs.

SERPPAS Georgia Conservation Forum

This group will organize workshops focused on creating a statewide collaborative conservation partnership involving military installations, state organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. It will initially support the SERPPAS initiative with specific conservation actions and partnerships in Georgia. It will then foster state-level collaboration, and provide an information sharing venue to crossfeed ideas, develop partnerships, and work together. A potential focus area is threatened and endangered species and species at-risk, including the gopher tortoise.

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South Carolina Invasive Species Group

The goal of this group is to identify potential sites for habitat conversion to clear invasive species while not harming native species. Test projects likely will focus on replacing invasives on airfields to reduce bird-aircraft strike hazards. The first meeting was held in August 2006.

Next Steps for the SWAP-INRMP Initiative

DoD has established space on its Defense Environmental Network and Information Exchange web site for information posting. See https://www.denix. osd.mil/denix/Public/Library/NCR/inrmp. html?fm-natres.

A follow-up meeting of the larger Southeastern group and additional regional SWAP-INRMP workshops are planned for the Southwest and Northwest within the coming year.

L. Peter Boice is DoD Conservation Team Leader, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment), 1225 South Clark Street, Suite I500, in Arlington, Virginia.
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Title Annotation:integrated natural resource management plan
Author:Boice, L. Peter
Publication:Endangered Species Update
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:760
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