And once the plan has been sold to the base commander and everyone else, the
natural resources manager has the task of making it work.
What Tim Beaty, Mary Hassell, Kyle Rambo, and many others are advocating
is part of what's often referred to as "adaptive management." The concept, which
has been around for decades, has become a major part of assessing, planning for,
and executing big, complicated projects such as those that are required in Integrated
Natural Resources Management Plans. Using adaptive management, policies
become flexible experiments. For example, a policy to preserve and protect
habitat for a certain creature on a military installation (while not only not harming
the military mission but actually supporting it) is not set in stone, but rather
treated as an effort to be closely watched and modified if required. Formulating
the policy and placing it into action during a specified time span (as an INRMP
might require) is not enough; managers must calculate over time the responses of
the ecosystem to the change. In simplest form, adaptive management might be
defined as "learning from the outcome."
For Mary Hassell, adaptive management is a natural part of biodiversity conservation on military lands and waters, and one that is not all that difficult to execute.
It's like an annual review, she says: " the concept of really using the Integrated
Natural Resources Management Plan as a tool, and actually using it. It's
the concept where 'This is something we're planning to do; we'll take a look at
what we're planning to do; we'll fund it and find a way to implement it; and then
we'll look at it and see how well we implemented it and see if there's anything we
need to change.'
A Solid INRMP
The Integrated Natural Resources
Management Plan for Marine
Corps Base Camp Pendleton, in
southern California, might be seen
as a model of good, instructive reporting.
The reasoning behind the
lengthy document is expressed lucidly
in the first paragraph of its
The mission of the Marine Corps is
to win battles and make Marines.
The Marines need to train as they
fight, which requires access to extensive
acreages for training. Over
time, military training activities
pose the potential for adverse impacts
to Marine Corps lands and
resources. Unless properly managed,
Camp Pendleton lands could
be impacted to the point where
both the quality of training and
conservation value of the land
could be diminished. Natural resources
management supports the
Marine Corps mission by ensuring
the health of its lands for longterm
For a look at the complete Pendleton
INRMP, click here
"The military is pretty dynamic. Sometimes we have a new range or a new
weapon system, and things are always moving. There are a lot of moving parts.
So we have to constantly try to keep up; keep ahead of the game. So far as managing
our natural resources is concerned, the projects in an INRMP give us a chance
to practice that adaptive management."
In fact, says Hassell, the concept of adaptive management is useful in reminding
managers that the INRMP is just a very useful tool, rather than a doctrine that's
set in stone. "The big problem that I see with the INRMPs," she says, "is that a lot
of money has been thrown at preparing the plans. It's really not the plans that are
important; it's what we're doing on the ground that's important. People think they
have to completely revise these documents every five years. But the law says the
documents have to be formally reviewed for operation and effect every five years.
That means if the plan is still good, you keep it. You might have some new projects,
but there's no need to spend $100,000 to regurgitate another plan just to
put a new date on it. That is something that DoD-wide people have realized. And
we're trying to get the word out there that you don't have to redo the sucker every
five years, but we really want you to take a look and ask, How are we doing?"