DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
Chapters:Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11IntroductionCase StudiesAcknowledgements
Chapter 3: Legal and Policy Background; By J. Douglas Ripley; Edited by Fred Powledge

The conservation and enhancement of biological diversity on the public's military lands have emerged as significant components of the Department of Defense's overall environmental and natural resources management programs. This is due to a variety of influences, some from within the Department of Defense (DoD) and others directed by Congress. This chapter provides a summary of current policy issues and legislative initiatives within the Department of Defense that directly or indirectly relate to the conservation of biological diversity on the public's military lands.

Part 1. Current Policy Issues


Encroachment is defined here as the cumulative result of any and all outside influences that inhibit normal military training, testing and operations.1 Encroachment has emerged in recent years as a major issue for the DoD, as ever-increasing population growth continues near once remote and isolated military installations. Military impacts such as overflights, artillery noise, interference with radio spectra, or the need for safety buffer zones around impact areas and unexploded ordnance (UXO) are some of the more important aspects of military operations that are incompatible with civilian development near military ranges. From an environmental perspective, the loss of natural habitats through development on areas adjacent to military installations can negatively impact the biodiversity on military lands. Encroachment may contribute to the loss of migration corridors for wildlife, the reduction in size of critical natural populations of imperiled species and their critical habitats, increased air and water pollution that may negatively impact native species, and many other potential direct and indirect effects.

What is Encroachment?
One definition is to take another's possession or rights gradually or stealthily. But encroachment exists in the eye of the beholder. In this discussion we have focused on the military's view, but civilian communities adjacent to military installations may see expansion of no-development zones, noise, and disruption of frequency spectra as encroachment upon them.

All the services focus on community partnering and intergovernmental planning to achieve compatible land use and zoning to protect ever-evolving management needs. They integrate these activities as appropriate with such programs as the Air Installations Compatible Use Zones (AICUZ) program and the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) Program. For the past several years, the DoD has been developing policies to address encroachment. This has largely been accomplished through its efforts to comply with the provisions of Section 2684A of the FY2003 Defense Authorization Act, 10 USC 2684A, described in the Legislative Initiatives section, below. The most conspicuous element of this effort has been the establishment of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI), a component of the Sustainable Range Initiative, also described below.

The Army began the first formal program to address encroachment in 1995 at Fort Bragg, N.C., where it worked with stakeholders in and around the installation to develop the Fort Bragg Private Land Initiative (also called the North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership) as a way to work cooperatively to conserve private lands to help restore the red-cockaded woodpecker, a federally listed endangered species.2 This effort led to the Army's partnering with The Nature Conservancy and other stakeholders to buy lands or interests from willing owners. The lands were then used as additional off-base habitat for the bird, while providing open space for the community and a buffer from encroachment for the installation. The results were that the Army could once again use training lands that had been previously set aside exclusively to protect woodpecker habitat, habitat for the bird was expanded, and open space was preserved from encroachment around Fort Bragg, thus reducing potential conflicts with military activities. In 2005, Fort Bragg reached a woodpecker population size of 436 groups, an increase from 350 in 2000, and exceeded the population recovery size dictated by the Endangered Species Act. (See

From its highly successful initiative at Fort Bragg, the Army developed the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB) that allows for the establishment of conservation easements and other strategies to protect its training ranges from encroachment. ( Through the ACUB program the Army enters into cooperative agreements with partners to purchase land or interests in the land and/or water rights from willing sellers as part of a comprehensive approach to protect its testing and training requirements. Under these arrangements, cost-sharing agreements are individually negotiated between the Army and the partners.

Building on DoD's REPI guidance, the Navy and Marine Corps have also addressed encroachment issues in the past several years through what they term Encroachment Partnering (EP) Programs, part of an overall Encroachment Control Program that develops encroachment action or control plans that delineate short, medium, and long-term strategies for each installation. The Department of the Navy's practice has been to acquire a recordable interest in property in the form of a restrictive use or conservation easement or deed covenants similar to a real estate civil easement, in which one party grants permission for a road or utility right-of-way.

San Francisco

The U.S. Army transferred the Presidio of San Francisco to the National Park Service in 1994 after more than two centuries of military use. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

The Air Force, probably the military service least impacted directly by infringement, has only recently begun to address the encroachment issues, primarily by focusing on community partnering and intergovernmental planning to achieve compatible land use and zoning to protect ever-evolving airspace management needs.

The authority in 10 USC 2684A represents a significant step forward in encouraging open communication and collaboration between the military and a wide array of stakeholders, leading to successful conservation/compatibility partnerships that are focused on common objectives. These partnerships allow DoD to make clear-cut gains in achieving conservation and protecting the military mission by leveraging funds to accomplish the protection of vital lands and habitats.

Mission Sustainability

Ever-increasing demands on limited land resources, especially for the Army and Marine Corps, have resulted in new concerns about the sustainability of the military land base. This is attributable to the increasing demands on the land base by larger and more complex military equipment, along with the employment of new training strategies. Also, the loss of some large training areas, such as the Navy's Vieques Training Range in Puerto Rico, have further emphasized the need for ensuring the sustainability of remaining military lands. And the many new operational constraints imposed by encroachment further threaten the sustainability of military testing and training lands.


Egrets roosting in baldcypress wetlands at Barksdale afb, Louisiana. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

The DoD has developed a comprehensive plan as part of its evolving Sustainable Range Initiative (SRI) to ensure the sustainability of military ranges and installations while simultaneously protecting the environment and ensuring that realistic training lands will be available in perpetuity. The DoD's annual Sustainable Ranges Report to Congress describes the importance of range sustainability to the DoD and the specific steps it is taking to address this critical issue.

The overarching policy for this Sustainable Range Initiative is presented in DoD Directive 3200.15, Sustainment of Ranges and Operating Areas, signed in January 2003.

The Army has taken the most structured and significant strides to address the practical aspects of long-term sustainability of its lands through the establishment in 1984 of its Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program. This effort established long-term monitoring and assessment protocols for Army training lands with a view to ensuring their sustainability. Only in very limited cases has the ITAM program been employed in the other military services.


BRAC Success Stories
Some military installations closed through the BRAC process have been transferred to other land management agencies because of their exceptional natural and cultural resources. Among those are the U.S. Army's Presidio of San Francisco, California (transferred to the National Park Service); the U.S. Army's Jefferson Proving Ground, Indiana; Fort Ord, California, and the North Tract of Fort Meade, Maryland (all transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service); the U.S. Navy's Midway Atoll (transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and the U.S. Air Force's Pease Air Force Base, New Hampshire (transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process has had profound effects on both the military and surrounding civilian communities, since it involves wide-ranging and sometimes wrenching changes in populations and fortune. BRAC has been employed five times since the enactment of the Defense Realignment and Closure Act in 1990, most recently in 2005. The process has closed or realigned hundreds of installations, some with significant natural resources.

DoD policy, as established in DoD Instruction 4715.3, Environmental Conservation Program, requires that before disposing of DoD properties, the DoD component with responsibility for the property involved shall: (1) Identify all significant natural and cultural resources, and determine whether they may be affected by the disposal action; and (2) Provide disposal plans to appropriate agencies, organizations, and individuals, and provide a reasonable opportunity for review and comment before proceeding with the disposal action.

The most significant impact of the BRAC process on current military natural resources programs has been with the realignment or movement of military forces and their families and missions from closing installations to new installations. In addition to the general DoD policy established in DoD Instruction 4715.3, each military service has developed policies and procedures for assessing the environmental and natural resources conditions on installations being considered for closure or realignment. These assessments typically consider the occurrence of rare, threatened, or endangered species and the general level of biodiversity present.

Ecosystem Management and Biodiversity Conservation

The DoD formally established a policy for an ecosystem approach to natural resources management and for the conservation of biological diversity in its 1996 Conservation Instruction (DoDI 4715.3). The 1996 DoD Biodiversity Handbook and this revision to the handbook informally reinforce that policy. The DoD Policy regarding ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation was derived largely from the recommendations of the Keystone Center Policy Dialogue on a Department of Defense (DoD) Biodiversity Management Strategy (Keystone Center, 1996). The Keystone Center, a private non-profit organization, helps individuals and organizations approach environmental and scientific dilemmas and disagreements creatively and proactively. The center assisted the DoD in addressing the issue of biodiversity conservation through a series of dialogues involving the military, the academic community, environmental organizations, and concerned individuals.

The key elements of the policy for ecosystem management include the following goals, principles, and guidelines:

  • Goal of ecosystem management: To ensure that military lands support present and future training and testing requirements while preserving, improving, and enhancing ecosystem integrity. Over the long term, that approach shall maintain and improve the sustainability and biological diversity of terrestrial and aquatic (including marine) ecosystems while supporting sustainable economies, human use, and the environment required for realistic military training operations.
  • Principles and guidelines
    • Maintain and improve the sustainability and native biodiversity of ecosystems.
    • Administer with consideration of ecological units and timeframes.
    • Support sustainable human activities.
    • Develop a vision of ecosystem health.
    • Develop priorities and reconcile conflicts.
    • Develop coordinated approaches to work toward ecosystem health.
      • Involve the military operational community early in the planning process.
      • Develop a detailed ecosystem management implementation strategy for installation lands and other programs.
      • Meet regularly with regional stakeholders (e.g., state, tribal, and local governments; nongovernmental entities; private landowners; and the public) to discuss issues and to work towards common goals.
      • Incorporate ecosystem management goals into strategic, financial, and program planning and design budgets to meet the goals and objectives of the ecosystem management implementation strategy.
      • Seek to prevent undesirable duplication of effort, minimize inconsistencies, and create efficiencies in programs affecting ecosystems.
    • Rely on the best science and data available.
    • Use benchmarks to monitor and evaluate outcomes.
    • Use adaptive management.
    • Implement ecosystem management through installation plans and programs.

    DoD Directive 4715.3 establishes the following goals for the conservation of biological diversity on military lands:

    • Goals. Biodiversity conservation on DoD lands and waters shall be promoted when consistent with the mission and practicable to achieve the following goals:
    • Maintain or restore remaining native ecosystem types across their natural range of variation.
    • Maintain or reestablish viable populations of all native species in an installation's areas of natural habitat, when practical.
    • Maintain evolutionary and ecological processes, such as disturbance regimes, hydrological processes, and nutrient cycles.
    • Manage over sufficiently long-time periods for changing system dynamics.
    • Accommodate human use in those guidelines.

Each of the services has incorporated policies regarding ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation into their natural resources directives. These policies are subject to periodic review and revision because of their relationship to so many other natural resources management issues (e.g. sustainability, encroachment, etc.).

Bill Tate, USFWS fish biologist, with Okaloosa darters. Eglin AFB, Florida, is home to more that 90 percent of the darter's stream habitat. Projects for the protection of this federally listed species qualify for Class I funding. (Photo: Jerron Barnett, U.S. Air Force)

Natural Resources Funding

Appropriated Funding

Another important policy issue at the heart of biodiversity conservation is funding. Obtaining appropriated funding for natural resources projects is the responsibility of each military service, based on policy guidance issued by the Department of Defense in DoD Instruction 4715.3. Each military service has therefore developed individual environmental funding policy based on the DoD policy.

The DoD funding policy establishes the following natural resources funding priorities for appropriated Operations and Maintenance (Funding Appropriation 3400) :

  • Class 0: Recurring natural and cultural resources conservation management requirements. Includes activities needed to cover the recurring administrative, personnel, and other costs associated with managing DoD's conservation program that are necessary to meet applicable compliance requirements (federal and state laws, regulations, presidential executive orders, and DoD policies) or which are in direct support of the military mission.
  • Class I: Current compliance: Includes projects and activities needed because an installation is currently out of compliance (has received an enforcement action from a duly authorized federal or state agency, or local authority); has a signed compliance agreement or has received a consent order, or has not met requirements based on applicable federal or state laws, regulations, standards, presidential executive orders, or DoD policies, and/or are immediate and essential to maintain operational integrity or sustain readiness of the military mission. "Class I" also includes projects and activities needed that are not currently out of compliance (deadlines or requirements have been established by applicable laws, regulations, standards, DoD policies, or presidential executive orders, but deadlines have not passed or requirements are not in force) but shall be if projects or activities are not implemented in the current program year.
  • Class II: Maintenance requirements. Includes those projects and activities needed that are not currently out of compliance (deadlines or requirements have been established by applicable laws, regulations, standards, presidential executive orders, or DoD policies) but deadlines have not passed or requirements are not in force), but shall be out of compliance if projects or activities are not implemented in time to meet an established deadline beyond the current program year.
  • Class III: Enhancement or actions beyond compliance. Includes those projects and activities that enhance conservation resources or the integrity of the installation mission, or are needed to address overall environmental goals and objectives, but are not specifically required under regulation or executive order and are not of an immediate nature.

Non-Appropriated Funding

Watchable Wildlife
The development of the Watchable Wildlife site at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, is an example of a Class III conservation project that addresses important conservation and outdoor recreation goals but is not required under service regulations or federal law.

In addition to appropriated funding, several other sources exist for funding natural resources projects on military lands. Among those are the revenues derived from the outleasing of agricultural lands, the sale of commercial forestry products, and the sale of hunting and fishing permits. The procedure for the collection, expenditure and accounting of these funds is provided in DoD Instruction 4715.3, that reinforces legal mandates for each funding sources. That policy conforms to the unique legal requirements for each of the funding sources.

Nature Trail Sign, Dobbins ARB, Georgia. The construction of nature trails is a Level III natural resources funding project. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

Bottom Left: Fishing programs at Eglin AFB, Florida, supported by the funds collected in permit fees, provide recreational opportunities for military members and their familes. (Photo: Jerron Barnett, U.S. Air Force)

Bottom Right: Commercial forestry operations at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)
  • Agricultural Leases: Title 10, Section 2667(d) prescribes procedures for agricultural leases, which are also delineated in the individual services' natural resources directives.
  • Commercial forestry programs: A special feature of this program is the DoD Forestry Reserve Account, which serves as an emergency holding account to ensure that the self-supporting DoD forestry program remains solvent in times of low revenue. The Army serves as the DoD executive agency for this account, as specified in Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation (DODFMR 7000.14-R Volume 11A, Chapter 16). Specific policy and guidance for the management of each service's forestry account is contained in the individual service's natural resources directives.
  • Hunting and Fishing Fees: The authority for the collection of these fees derives from the Sikes Act. As with the other reimbursable accounts, specific policy and guidance for the management of each Service's hunting and fishing fee accounts is contained in the individual service's natural resources directives.

Other Funding Sources. Other funding sources are available to military natural resources managers, including research grants, cooperative partnerships with other government agencies, and cooperative agreements with nongovernmental organizations. The Sikes Act grants authority for the DoD to enter into cooperative agreements with nongovernmental organizations. One very important source of funding for DoD natural and cultural resources projects is the Legacy Resource Management Program, a special Congressional appropriation established in 1991 specifically to fund natural and cultural resources projects on military lands. Initially the criteria for Legacy Program funding were very general and allowed for the funding of many relatively small natural and cultural resources enhancement projects on individual military installations. In 1997, Congress modified Legacy project selection criteria to support mainly larger, regional, and DoD-wide projects.

Walter Briggs, Staff Forester, Naval Engineering Field Activity, Northwest,Washington, exemplifies the Sikes Act requirement for the employment of professionally trained natural resources managers. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

Staffing of natural resources positions with qualified personnel. The Sikes Act requires that professionally trained natural resources managers be employed at all installations requiring an Integrated Resources Management Plan (INRMP). The Sikes Act further stipulates that if qualified individuals can not be found within the military service to implement the INRMP, then priority should be given to an appropriate federal or state wildlife management agency to execute it. However, this policy has not been formally adopted by all the military services. Even where it has, such as in the Air Force, it is sometimes not enforced. The result is that some natural resources positions are filled with individuals lacking formal natural resources backgrounds or training. Typically, individuals with civil engineering backgrounds are selected for these positions or, in some cases, individuals with no formal professional natural resources training whatsoever.

Water Conservation

Particularly at installations in the Southwest, water conservation has emerged as a significant policy issue. Water conservation issues, such as at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Fort Carson, Colorado, and the military installations in the San Antonio, Texas, area, are often linked to a number of other environmental issues (e.g. Endangered Species Act compliance, encroachment of civilian housing, etc.). To date, these issues have been addressed locally on a case-by-case manner without a consistent DoD or individual service policy.

Impacts on Nonmilitary Lands and Waters

Military testing and training often impact non-military lands and waters (wilderness areas, national parks, ocean basins) and their associated natural resources. Examples include Air Force overflights or low level training in wilderness areas and national wildlife refuges, and impacts to marine life by Navy SONAR operations and ship shock testing in the open oceans.

Tamarix (or salt cedar) at Edwards AFB, California. DoD programs to control this serious pest are important to many ecosystems throughout the southwestern U.S. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

Invasive Species

In some cases, invasive species directly affect military training operations. On almost every DoD installation – as elsewhere – invasive species are having a deleterious effect on the natural resources.3 Military invasive species issues involve efforts to control the introduction or spread of invasive species due to military operations (e.g. return shipments to the U.S. of military equipment from overseas deployments, discharge of ballast water by Navy vessels in U.S. ports, etc.) to the control of invasive species on military lands. Efforts to deal with this issue are being addressed primarily through the DoD Armed Forces Pest Management Board and by the individual services' natural resources guidance.

The DoD has issued guidance, via memorandum for the implementation of Executive Order 13112, Invasive Species.

Development, Implementation, and Revision of INRMPs

The amendments provided in the Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 significantly strengthened DoD natural resources programs by mandating the development and implementation of inrmps for all installations with natural resources. As discussed in the Legislative Initiative section, below, the 1997 amendments required that inrmps be prepared in cooperation with the appropriate state fish and game agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and that they be subject to public review and comment. Additionally, the services must fund and implement their inrmps, review them annually, and update them as necessary at least every five years.4

The current DoD conservation instruction (DoDI 4715.3) has not been revised since the enactment of the 1997 Sikes Act Amendments. However, the DoD has implemented policy on the development and revision of INRMPs via several official memoranda and also has provided INRMP guides, handbooks, and other development tools. Among those are:

Each military service has developed specific policy guidance for INRMP implementation in their individual natural resources directives and through other guidance.

U.S. Air Force Academy INRMP. The implementation of the INRMP requirements of the 1997 Sikes Act Improvement Act have strengthened and expanded military natural resources programs. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Academy)
Army Navy U.S. Marine Corps U.S. Air Force
  • September 2004: Air Force Instruction 32-7064, Integrated Natural Resources Management
Endangered Species Act (ESA) Issues

Compliance with the ESA has long been a major component of the DoD's environmental programs (

Although the DoD endangered species policy is well established in DoD Directive 4715.3 and the individual services natural resources directives, recent legislative initiatives regarding the designation of critical habitat, as discussed in Part 2, below, have necessitated some modifications to the DoD policy which are yet to be formalized. However, the Army has prepared specific guidance regarding the designation of critical habitat under the ESA that addresses the issue of using the existence of an installation INRMP to preclude the designation of critical habitat, as discussed in Section 2, below ( 5

Law Enforcement

The Sikes Act mandates that natural resources law enforcement be provided on military lands, and the DoD has developed very general law enforcement policy in DoD Directive 4715.3. However, comprehensive DoD law enforcement policy is lacking and each military service has historically addressed the subject individually on an installation-by-installation basis. This has included a range of law enforcement options ranging from employment of civilian game wardens, military police, or combinations of civilian game wardens and military police. Further, there is no DoD standard for law enforcement training, firearms, or civilian job descriptions. In 2003, the U.S. Marine Corps developed a standard law enforcement policy described in Marine Corps Order 5090.1, Conservation Law Enforcement Program.

The Marine Corps policy provides standardized job descriptions, proscribes training requirements, and sets staffing levels for all Marine Corps installations. Although the Air Force has endeavored to develop a similar program, it has yet to be formalized. A standard DoD policy on natural resources law enforcement, therefore, remains to be developed.

Cooperation Conservation Efforts

A fisherman is checked by a Fort Riley conservation officer for compliance with the post's regulations. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

It has long been DoD policy to encourage cooperation on natural resources management issues with federal organizations, states, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and individuals to maintain and improve natural resources, as outlined in DoD Directive 4715.3. Prior to the enactment of 10 USC 2684A, discussed above in the Encroachment Section, the Sikes Act was used as the primary authority for the Secretary of Defense to enter into cooperative agreements. However, this authority was almost entirely directed to the protection of resources within the boundaries of DoD installations. The authority of 10 USC 2684A allows for cooperative conservation efforts through the acquisition of land or easements in the vicinity of military installations and ranges, thus adding a valuable flexibility to wildlife protection efforts.

Finally, Executive Order 13352, Cooperative Conservation, specifically directs federal agencies to develop cooperative conservation programs.

Over the years, cooperative conservation efforts with federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, universities, and museums have provided many opportunities for the DoD to obtain invaluable, cost effective research and other services in support of its natural resources conservation programs. With the authority of 10 USC2684A, many new cooperative agreements are being established that help to enhance off-base habitat and to ease encroachment problems in the vicinity of military installations. 6

Public Access to Military Lands

Natural resources law enforcement sign, Charleston Naval Weapons Station, South Carolina. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)
Public access to military lands for recreational purposes has long been a requirement of the Sikes Act. The Defense Authorization Act of 1999 expanded this requirement to specifically encourage access to hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation opportunities for disabled veterans (.( .

However, DoD policy has always stated that the local military commander has the authority to decide the extent of public access to his or her installation, based on security and safety considerations. And, following the events of 11 September 2001, public access has been significantly reduced to most military installations. Consequently, no DoD formal policy exists for public access to military bases and ranges, and public access is handled mainly on a case-by-case basis at individual installations. 7

Wetlands Regulations

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defines wetlands as "those areas that are inundated or saturated with ground or surface water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted to life in saturated soil conditions." Wetlands are an important natural system because of the diverse biological and hydrologic functions they perform. These functions could include water quality improvement, groundwater recharge, pollution treatment, nutrient cycling, provision of wildlife habitat and niches for unique flora and fauna, stormwater storage, and erosion protection.

Wetlands are protected as a subset of the "waters of the United States" under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The term "waters of the United States" has broad meaning under the CWA and incorporates deepwater aquatic habitats and special aquatic habitats (including wetlands). "Jurisdictional" waters of the United States are areas regulated under the CWA and could also include coastal and inland waters, lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, intermittent streams, vernal pools, and "other" waters that if degraded or destroyed could affect interstate commerce.

Section 404 of the CWA authorizes the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers, to issue or deny permits for the discharge of dredged or fill materials into the waters of the United States, including wetlands. In addition, Section 404 of the CWA also grants states with sufficient resources the right to assume these responsibilities.

Section 401 of the CWA gives the state board and regional boards the authority to regulate, through water quality certification, any proposed federally permitted activity that might result in a discharge to water bodies, including wetlands.

Vernal pool wetland at Beale AFB, California. Situated in the northern Sacramento Valley, Beale AFB possesses thousands of vernal pools, protected wetlands of exceptional biological diversity. Several species of endangered invertebrates occupy these wetlands and Beale AFB has developed a comprehensive management plan for their protection and conservation. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

Furthermore, wetlands are protected under Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands (43 FR 6030), the purpose of which is to reduce adverse impacts associated with the destruction or modification of wetlands. The secretary of each military service has established procedures to redelegate authority for the protection of wetlands to a lower administrative level, typically at the major operational command. The commander at that level, typically serving as chair of command's Environmental Protection Committee, must sign a Finding of No Practicable Alternative (FONPA) before any action within a federally-designated wetland may proceed. In preparing a FONPA, the military unit must consider alternatives that will satisfy justified program requirements, meet technology standards, are cost-effective, do not result in unreasonable adverse environmental impacts, and other pertinent factors. When the practicality of alternatives has been fully assessed, only then should a statement regarding the FONPA be made into the associated FONSI or Record of Decision (RoD).

As a result of the previously cited federal and state regulations, the military services are responsible for identifying and locating jurisdictional waters of the United States (including wetlands) occurring on military lands where these resources have the potential to be impacted by military mission activities. Such impacts could include construction of roads, buildings, runways, taxiways, navigation aids, and other appurtenant structures or activities as simple as culvert crossings of small intermittent streams, riprap placement in stream channels to curb accelerated erosion, and incidental fill and grading of wet depressions.

Proceed to Next Section: Important Legislative Initiatives

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About This Chapter's Author
J. Douglas Ripley is an environmental consultant and Lieutenant Colonal, USAF (Retired).

Literature Cited
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