DOD aids in conservation with base buffer zones

Posted: May 1, 2013

Written by

Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times/GW
Red-cockaded woodpecker

A Defense Department program has resulted in the creation of more than 260,000 acres of sanctuaries as the military tries to keep urban growth from affecting its bases.

Through the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative, the agency has spent nearly $1 billion to create buffer zones around 64 military bases across the country. DOD works with conservation organizations and local governments on the deals; it has spent $300 million in cost-sharing agreements for partners that acquire easements that can be used for military testing and training.

The off-limits areas have ended up protecting a number of the rarest fauna and flora in the world, including the California red-legged frog and the rare longleaf habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker.

"This is one of the fastest-growing federal conservation programs to protect habitat and land -- but that is not why we are doing it," program spokeswoman Nancy Natoli said. "Our mission is to train war fighters."

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