August 11, 2015 – U.S. Department of Defense, Readiness and Environmental Protection Agency (REPI)
Today the REPI Program is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 REPI Challenge:
- Fort Benning-Fort Stewart, Georgia
- Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nevada
- Naval Shipyard (NSY) Portsmouth Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School, Maine
The REPI Program designed the REPI Challenge to protect large parcels of land and leverage greater partner cost-share to better benefit the military, the taxpayer, and the environment.
- These buffer lands will provide the military greater flexibility to use its land for training purposes while also protecting critical wildlife habitats and threatened and endangered species.
- The 2015 REPI Challenge also encouraged proposals that advance and promote the spirit and intent of Sentinel Landscapes by preserving landscapes where protecting the working and rural character of the lands strengthens the economies of farms, ranches, and forests, and benefits habitat and natural resources.
With many great opportunities and partnerships evidenced by the 2015 proposals, the REPI Program decided to spread the Challenge award to three projects that elevated the link between protecting natural resources and landscapes benefiting the military mission.
In the first winning project, Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Knobloch Family Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and U.S. Forest Service are working together to protect 7,016 acres of gopher tortoise habitat to help preclude an Endangered Species Act listing that could impact military installations across the Southeast. A REPI Challenge award of $2 million plus another $2 million from the Army will leverage more than $12 million in partner contributions for the Fort Benning-Fort Stewart project. This particular tract is the most important available habitat, based on gopher tortoise counts, within Georgia, with a survey finding 1,877 tortoises on this one tract.
At NAS Fallon, the Navy is partnering with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Nevada Conservation Districts Program, Nevada Division of State Lands, and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect greater sage grouse habitat along the Fallon Range Training Complex military influence area. A REPI award of just over $2 million will leverage more than $4 million in partner funding to protect 11,306 acres of habitat from incompatible development to keep critical range training areas unrestricted. In addition to sustaining the mission, this is also part of a larger effort to reduce sagebrush habitat loss and fragmentation, restore prime habitat areas, and conduct biological research.
Finally, NSY Portsmouth SERE School, located in Redington, Maine, is benefiting from a partnership with Trust for Public Land, Trout Unlimited, the Mountain Conservancy Collaborative, High Peaks Alliance, Main Audubon Society, Mahoosuc Initiative, and NRCS to preserve timberlands that maintain a realistic, remote environment for SERE School field training. A REPI award of $2 million is being leveraged more than 2:1 to permanently restrict development on 9,728 acres that will provide timber harvesting and wildlife habitat. This project is part of a long-term plan to create a nationally renowned remote lands triathlon dedicated to veterans’ rehabilitative services.
All told, these three partnerships will leverage $6.2 million in REPI Challenge funding with over $21 million in other funding to protect 28,050 acres. These exciting projects bring new partners to the table, address important regional habitat and species issues affecting multiple installations, and bring these installations significantly closer to reaching their overall buffer goals.
In addition, the Sentinel Landscapes Federal Coordinating Committee is reviewing all the 2015 REPI Challenge proposals in hopes of identifying finalists for future Sentinel Landscape designation in the upcoming months, with the goal of designating additional Sentinel Landscapes this fall. More information on the Sentinel Landscapes finalists will be available soon.
Expect additional information on the winning projects to be posted on www.REPI.mil shortly. Thank you to all those who submitted proposals for the 2015 REPI Challenge, and congratulations to the three winning partnerships!
Editor’s note: Visit www.REPI.mil for more information on the program and this news.
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.