Plenty of Examples
What are 'risk communications'?
The Army's guide to public participation
recommends that a specialist
in "risk communications" be
part of the basic strategy team.
The guide defines risk as "environmental
harm or adverse health
effects that could result from human
activities or exposure to the
environmental conditions at a
site." The guide goes on to say
that "Risk communication is at the
heart of effective public involvement,"
and it's a factor in almost
every decision that involves air,
land, or water. Dealings with the
community cannot avoid frank
discussions of risk; the public's
trust of the military installation is
There are abundant examples of effective military-community cooperation. Kyle
Rambo, whose work at Naval Air Station Patuxent River3 was described in chapter
9, has much experience with the subject; his installation has gone through
three Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) processes (and came out a winner
each time) in a community that is highly economically dependent on the Navy.
"We're responsible for 80 percent of the county's [St. Mary's County, Maryland]
economy," he says. "The Navy pumps $2 billion a year into the local community."
Furthermore, Pax River has become the leading agency in its home county
for environmental information and activity. Other conservation agencies "call us
with questions of a technical nature," he says.
Still, when public hearings were held a few years ago on the base's future in
the BRAC process, Rambo was understandably nervous, even though community
leaders (many of them retired Pax River officers) had mounted an intense lobbying
campaign to keep the base open. When county officials called for public comment
at one of the meetings, a representative of the Sierra Club rose to his feet.
Rambo listened apprehensively. "He said 'I'd just like to be on the record as saying
if St. Mary's County, in terms of development and environment in this county,
did outside the gate as well as Pax River does on this Navy base, we would be a
lot better.'" (Rambo said his first thought was, "'Did anybody get that on film?'
You can't buy that kind of support.")
Buffering has become an important buzzword in military-community relations.
At most installations, civilian development and population growth make it highly
unlikely that the base itself can be enlarged, even though modern weaponry and
training techniques need expanded space. Thus was born the buffering idea.4 The Army led this movement in the nineteen-nineties by acquiring conservation easements
on lands around Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that were suitable habitat for
the red-cockaded woodpecker.5 The Army eventually expanded and formalized
this strategy into the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB).
The Marine Corps followed soon after by acquiring easements on land adjacent
to its Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, also in North Carolina. In 2003,
the Department of Defense broadened the buffering idea to allow military departments
(in the words of a DoD document) to:
enter into an agreement with a state or private entity to limit development or property use that
is incompatible with the mission, to preserve habitat, or to relieve anticipated environmental
restrictions that would restrict, impede, or interfere with military training, testing, or operations
on the installation.6
Cooperative partnerships have grown in subsequent years to the point where
they are everyday instruments in the military land manager's toolbox. The Fort
Carson Regional Partnership is helping to protect what remains of Colorado's
short-grass prairie and the flora and fauna that inhabit it. The Coastal Georgia
Private Lands Initiative was established by Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield
and their partners to protect some 120,000 acres surrounding the base. And a
well-known and celebrated conservation partnership is the Northwest Florida
Greenway, a consortium of military, government, and nonprofit organizations
that seeks to protect a hundred-mile-long protected corridor of valued biodiversity
that connects Eglin Air Force Base and the Apalachicola National Forest. The
area has been identified as one of the six most biologically diverse regions in the
United States. Again, The Nature Conservancy is an active promoter of the partnership.7
Proceed to Next Section: Partnerships