Tips From Experts
Any defense installation's natural resources manager who has been through the
INRMP writing process probably deserves to be called an expert in the field. The
process is akin to compiling the data for, and then writing, a comprehensive nonfiction
book. As Kyle Rambo points out, land managers frequently meet with each
other, and stay in touch by e-mail and the Internet, and so a great deal of expertise
Mary Hassell, the Marine Corps's natural and cultural resources manager, believes
a key need for the INRMP writer is to have a clear vision of the plan's goals,
for most everything else flows from those. "What needs to be concentrated on,"
she says, "are the goals and objectives, and how well we're doing in implementing
the projects that we are listing [in our INRMP]. So, for example, our goal
would be compatible with integrated land management, and an objective would
be that in order to support that goal would be minimizing soil erosion. And then
the project would be a soil erosion control project. So what you're doing is, every
year you're sitting down with your colleagues at the Fish and Wildlife Service and
your colleagues with the state fish and game or wildlife agency, and you're going
over the goals and objectives and projects and your work plan, and you ask 'How
well are we doing here? Are the goals and objectives still valid? Do we need to
drop some, add some? Is it supporting the recovery of any endangered species
that we have? Is it supporting biodiversity; is it minimizing invasive species?'"
To aid in this process, the Navy has developed a Web-based tool, called the
"Natural Resources Metrics Builder," that its installations are now required to
use. The Metrics Builder is actually a database that lists all the Navy and Marine
Corps INRMPs, with categories for seven focus areas. "We look at our partnership
effectiveness; we look at opportunities for public recreation hunting and
fishing and we go into all these focus areas and we actually require our installations
that have INRMPs to fill this out in collaboration with our partners, and
give a score, from zero to 100, how well they're doing," says Mary Hassell.3
Tim Beaty, at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, says an INRMP effort
must always keep the military mission at the top of its list. In addition to managing
thousands of acres of forest to accommodate endangered, threatened, and
rare species, and drawing up schedules for prescribed burning, as well as cooperating
with nearby landowners and cleaning up toxic spills from the past, Beaty
is aware of the need to involve the base's military trainers in his plans for conservation.
In Fort Stewart's case, as at Fort Benning (see chapter 1), the red-cockaded
woodpecker was instrumental in joining the concepts of conservation and mission.
"For close to twenty years," recalls Beaty, "there was friction between the
woodpecker and the mission." Finally, the base started getting "jeopardy opinions."
4 Similar warnings were received by Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, also
"over the damage that was occurring as a result of training."
When land managers at Fort Stewart began more forcefully applying existing
timber harvesting rules that left woodpecker habitat untouched, they got flak
from another direction. "The Army said, 'Hey, this isn't going to work. This is
impacting training'," said Beaty.
The solution would have thrilled the heart of any dedicated INRMP-writer. "We
began to realize that one of the reasons we were having so much friction between the mission needs and the woodpecker's needs was that we were fighting over the
same ground," says Beaty. "What we thought was good woodpecker habitat, places
that had woodpeckers in it, was the same place the Army thought was good training
land it was high and dry and open up so they could see and maneuver to it.
Wildlife Biologist Jim Ozier, (left), Georgia
Department of Natural Resources, assisting
natural resources managers at Dobbins
Air Reserve Base, Georgia, with the development
of the base Integrated Natural
Resources Management Plan. (Photo: Douglas
"We began to realize that there were a lot of parts of Fort Stewart that didn't
look like that. This was about the same time the conservation community was
starting to appreciate anew the importance of fire natural fire and particularly
to recognize that the way we had prescribed fire in the past had been a little too
timid that what this ecosystem really needs is fire in the growing seasons,
whereas our prescribed fires tended to be winter fires. As we started doing more
proactive use of fire, particularly growing-season fire, we were really liking the results
for the woodpeckers, and the Army was really liking the results for training.
"I think what's made our programs here successful, and supportive of the mission
as well as the endangered species, is that the habitat needs are the same. As
we focus on trying to make the habitat better, it's had positive effects on both the
woodpecker and the Army.
One lesson Tim Beaty learned from all this is that to compose a solid INRMP,
you must "Go back to the mission. Involve your trainers early on. If you don't
already have a good understanding of the mission and what the trainers' needs
and priorities are, get one. And then involve those folks; seek their input and constructive
"You always have to remember when you're working with the trainers, especially
now, is that we are a nation at war, and these are awful busy folks. It's really
hard for them to find time and drop what they're doing and read a 600-page,
or 100-page, even, management plan. You want to always coordinate with those
folks and get their input in a way that makes it easiest for them. You have to ask
them what that way is. To send them a 100-page document to review and get
their comments back in 10 days is not the best way to do it."
If a natural resources manager is working on a large installation, such as Fort
Stewart, said Beaty, "you've got to realize that you can't eat that cow all at one
time. You've got to eat it a bite at the time. What we did was come up with some
overall objectives and goals and then pencil in the INRMP along with a plan to do
more specific prescriptions, as we call them, training area by training area. There's
120 training areas that make up Fort Stewart subdivisions of the whole post
that can be used to schedule training activities and that kind of thing to make
sure that Company A is not shooting bazookas while Company B is learning how
to raise an antenna. Develop a prescription for each one of those areas that identifies
the current condition and what are the desired future conditions. Was there
an old agricultural field that we want to restore longleaf pine in? Where's a stand
that's too dense that we need to thin? Where's a wetland that we want to restore?
Those kinds of things.
"Our INRMP is a five-year plan, so we can say, Okay, for the next five years
we're going to do prescriptions on each of these 120 training areas. So we're trying
to do about 25 training areas each year about two prescriptions a month is
what we're turning out."
Once the trainers have been consulted, the databases studied, and the prescriptions
prescribed, the INRMP must be sold to the base commander. Tim Beaty
advocates taking as many expert helpers along for such presentations as possible.
"When you do go in to talk to the commander about the plan or anything else,
if you talk about the mission and about how your plan supports the mission, and
all the good things you're doing for the mission and what the mission means, be
sure to take somebody along from your directorate of plans, mobilization and security,
or whatever you call your training organization, and let him tell the commander
that. If you're going to have to tell the commander about how this is the
law and you need to be in compliance and you're going to go to jail if he doesn't
do this, take your lawyer along. Let your staff judge advocate tell him that.
"You sell the other staff elements on the idea, and let the guy that the general's
paying to be his expert on a particular subject tell him how your plan is going to
help him do well in that area."
Proceed to Next Section: Adaptive Management