DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
Chapters:Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11IntroductionCase StudiesAcknowledgements
Chapter 11: Building a Strong INRMP

The Mission and the INRMP

The INRMP Task Force Working Group at the Warren Grove Air National Guard Range, New Jersey. The formation of an INRMP Task Force Working Group, composed of representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state fish and game agency, other state and local environmental agencies, and interested nongovernmental and academic organizations, is an important first step in the preparation of a comprehensive INRMP. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

If the cardinal rule for writing a good Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan is to learn (and appreciate) the military mission, then a close runner-up is to assemble vast quantities of information. The INRMP is a living encyclopedia of the natural side of a military installation (several INRMPs refer to it as a "living document"), and also a handy list of what needs to be done and a chronology of how and when to do it. If it is well-written, it also is a valuable educational tool. Few military managers or even skilled biologists can stay current on all the aspects of environmental knowledge these days. A good INRMP is a storehouse of definitions, introducing the installation's caretakers to the most current thinking on environmental stewardship.2

It helps to codify the basic facts and of an installation, sorting them into various management areas. One such compendium of information, examined in the INRMP of one air base, includes:

  • a description of the installation – its size, environmental and demographic characteristics. These include climate, topography, air and water quality, water resources, geology, soil characteristics, existing ecosystems
  • fauna
  • flora
  • endangered, threatened, and rare species (including those included on state as well as federal lists)
  • invasive and other exotic species
  • facilities and other facets of development
  • hazardous and toxic materials
  • environmental justice issues

A well-built INRMP will state, up front, its purpose. A concise sample, taken from the document at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, near Atlanta, Georgia, says:

This INRMP is a practical guide for the management and stewardship of all natural resources present on Dobbins arb, while ensuring the successful accomplishment of the military mission. The INRMP was developed using an interdisciplinary approach in which information was gathered from a variety of organizations. Guidance was also solicited from a variety of Federal, state, and local agencies and groups. A Task Force was formed, which included key base personnel and individuals from various agencies. Representatives from the following Federal and state regulatory agencies were members of the Task Force: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Georgia Department of Natural Resources (gadnr). These varying perspectives allowed for an accurate portrayal of the status and management needs of local ecosystems, balanced against the requirement for the base to accomplish its mission(s) at the highest possible level of efficiency. (From Final Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan/Environmental Assessment for Dobbins ARB, Georgia, June 2007. Compact disc.)

The sample quoted above succinctly makes the point that successful management of natural resources goes hand in hand with a successful military mission. Most skillfully-written INRMPs make this point, though some seem reluctant to grant conservation equal status: ". . . land management on a military installation must be consistent with the military purposes of the installation," warns the INRMP preliminary document for the Barry M. Goldwater Range, which at 1.7 million acres is the nation's third largest military reservation. (The document is also huge; its executive summary is 36 single-spaced pages long, and the complete INRMP runs to 1,500 pages. They are available at and

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Fred Powledge is a writer and editor.

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