[Skip to Content]
  • CLICK HERE FOR AN IMPORTANT NOTICE AFFECTING OEA GRANT PAYMENTS AND AWARDS FROM APRIL 20 THROUGH MAY 4, 2015

A Military Camp Works to Be a Good Neighbor

The New York Times - November 26, 2011, By KATE GALBRAITH

CAMP BULLIS — Reddish-brown cedar chips from recently cleared trees spread across a patch of ground in this United States military installation, in sharp contrast to the jungle-like growth nearby.

“Before, you couldn’t hardly walk through it,” James Cannizzo, a civilian environmental lawyer for Camp Bullis, said above the faint, distant hum of a giant cedar-eating machine. “Now, we can have a group of guys do field maneuvers.”

Clearing cedar to expand training areas is a priority for the camp, just north of San Antonio, which helps train all medics in the United States military. Concerns about preserving habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler, which has increasingly sought refuge on the installation’s land as San Antonio’s suburbs swell, have stymied expansion.

But a series of deals with the Nature Conservancy, the latest of which was announced this month, is allowing the camp to clear thousands of acres of cedar (though oak trees are spared) inside its boundaries in exchange for permanent preservation of warbler-friendly ranchland outside the installation.

“To me, this is an example of a real win-win-win,” said Laura Huffman, the Texas director of the Nature Conservancy. The latest deal was financed with $2 million from the Army and $5 million from Bexar County.

Managing endangered species is one of several issues Camp Bullis — the field training grounds for Fort Sam Houston — has dealt with as multimillion-dollar homes and other sprawl have encroached. Nearby residents have complained about noise from helicopters and other military operations, and troops worry about nighttime lights.

Recently, camp officials successfully lobbied against plans for a nearby school because, “Who’s going to tell the parents why Johnny hears gunfire?” Mr. Cannizzo said.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Democrat of San Antonio and chairwoman of the Senate’s Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, said pressure from developers could be intense, especially given the state’s zeal for property rights. However, Ms. Van de Putte argued, addressing encroachment issues is important not only because it supports the military’s mission, but also because bases bring in money and jobs.

“We’ve got to take into account the economic development part of what our bases mean to us,” she said.

Mr. Cannizzo said Camp Bullis has resolved many of its problems thanks to several steps, including a 2010 San Antonio ordinance requiring better soundproofing for nearby new homes, a mandate for downward-facing lighting near the camp, and the Nature Conservancy agreements (plus another with Texas Parks and Wildlife).

But vigilance is still necessary. During the past legislative session, Mr. Cannizzo fought against bills that would have undercut a San Antonio ordinance that makes it harder to chop down trees near Camp Bullis, because he feared that more warblers could be forced onto the camp. The legislation did not pass.

Other Texas bases also face encroachment issues, even as some prepare to host more returning troops as overseas missions wind down. Many installations are dealing with endangered species, like the warblers (also found at Fort Hood) and the American burying beetle (found at Camp Maxey).

In Bastrop, near the Camp Swift training area, “we may be right behind Bullis in 10 to 15 years” because of the area’s rapid development, said Col. Robert Crow, commander of the training centers for the Texas Army National Guard.

Challenges relating to energy development have cropped up, too.

Capt. Mark McLaughlin, commander of Naval Air Station Kingsville, said in an e-mail that he spent a “considerable amount of time” dealing with the rise of wind farms along the coast, a concern for aircraft radar. Last month, Captain McLaughlin said, the Kingsville installation joined with other military groups, including the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, to work with wind farms toward compatible development.

Solar farms near runways have also surfaced as a concern at one military installation, Ms. Van de Putte said, because the panels can act like mirrors. However, she said, solar developers can use panels with less glare.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.

In the News

  • With or without BRAC, DoD’s footprint is shrinking

    April 8, 2015 – Federal News Radio, By Jared Serbu In each of the past four years, the Pentagon has proposed a new round of base closures and Congress has rejected every one so far. But with or without lawmakers’ approval, the military’s footprint is shrinking. The Defense Department has hinted...

    Read More...

  • Not Your Grandfather’s Factories

    Governing (Voices of the Governing Institute), By Anne Kim – April 8, 2015 It’s not easy for manufacturing to attract the younger, skilled workers that it needs. We need to focus on both the educational pipeline and public perceptions. For much of the past 30 years, the American public’s view of...

    Read More...

  • Improving Public Services: The Secrets of Award-Winning Cities

    April 6, 2015 – Governing, By John M. Kamensky Local governments, their citizens and community interest groups all want better service delivery, and more than ever are looking to technology to make that happen. But technology alone won’t work. What cities that have been recognized for innovations...

    Read More...

  • Looming Army cuts fill Texas leaders with dread

    April 4, 2015 – San Antonio Express-News, By Sig Christenson Automatic federal spending cuts over the last three years have hurt several Texas cities with large military installations — part of the budget sequester that will reduce the size of the Army by 80,000...

    Read More...

  • IMCOM leaders set sights on 2025

    April 2, 2015 – Hawai’i Army Weekly (Army News Service) SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Army Installation Management Command top leaders held a conference, here, for garrison commanders and command sergeants major to set a collective course for IMCOM 2025 and Beyond.

    Read More...

  • Budgets Signal Sequester Cuts Here to Stay

    March 30, 2015 – Defense News, By John T. Bennett WASHINGTON — What to do about sequestration is one issue House and Senate negotiators can skip as they craft a compromise 2016 federal budget blueprint. That’s because spending resolutions approved last week by the House and Senate both leave the...

    Read More...