Conservation is the wise use of land and natural resources. In our (the Army's) situation, it is stewardship of the natural environment of training lands. It involves balancing present training needs and long-term training site sustainability within the requirements of public land laws.
It is in the best interest of the Army to conserve its training lands. The lands the Army manages are growing effectively smaller as residential neighbors surround formerly rural facilities and as public scrutiny increases, as installations are closed under Base Realignment and Closure, and the Army will not be getting new lands soon.
Conservation is driven by federal, state and local laws and guided by Army Regulations. Although additional laws may apply, the primary laws that influence conservation and drive funding at Utah National Guard (UTNG) facilities are the:
The primary Army regulation that directs conservation is Army Regulation 200-3, “Natural Resources – Land, Forest and Wildlife Management,” soon to be superseded by the revised 200-1, draft "Environmental Protection and Enhancement."
The Sikes Act is the key law that dictates how conservation on a military installation will get done. It prescribes that installations will complete an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP). The plan for Camp Williams was completed in 2001; a revision is scheduled to be complete in 2006. The Camp William’s INRMP lays the groundwork for management by describing the natural environment and land uses of the camp. The major issues in conservation for the camp include grazing, wildlife, wildfire, noxious and invasive weeds, land rehabilitation, soil resources, and wetlands.
Currently, the only other UTNG installation that requires an INRMP is the St. George Armory due to the presence of endangered species. Until the current cycle of drought over the last 6-7 years, two high-profile plant species protected under the Endangered Species Act were on or immediately adjacent to UTNG lands. These two species and several others have been documented on all the surrounding lands.
The topics that are addressed within the following links are those that might either affect training or be adversely affected by training. They each include a brief discussion of the issues with any available tools that might be used to more effectively plan training events. Most topics are discussed as they affect Camp Williams, but the concepts can be applied to training elsewhere in the state and give background to the perspective and requirements of other government agencies. “Endangered Species” are discussed for training at or adjacent to the St. George Armory, but potentially apply to all training.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 USC 703-712) protects indigenous birds from take (pursuit, hunting, capture or kill). Additionally, federal agencies are responsible to coordinate with the USFWS before an action likely to take, to minimize the take, and to control harmful invasive species. Unintentional take must be addressed through the installation Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) and through National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) consideration (DAIM-ED-N 17 Aug 2001). The USFWS identified a subset of migratory birds as priority species under Birds of Conservation Concern (BCC) (USFWS 2008). Federal law provides for an exemption for military readiness activities related to combat, such as completing METL tasks and other G3-funded unit training exercises and for testing equipment for combat use.
However, DoD Components shall seek to minimize impacts on migratory birds and address effects of activities on migratory birds in INRMPs and appropriate NEPA documents (DODI 4715.03). Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds (Executive Order 13186, FR 66:11) gives any federal agency whose actions have, or may have, a measurable negative effect on migratory bird populations the responsibility to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Fish & Wildlife Service to promote their conservation. The MOU between the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service requires Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans (INRMPs) to coordinate habitat conservation and long-term monitoring.
Stakeholders and Activities – Action Points:
Noxious and Invasive Plants
The Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974 directs the management of undesirable plants on federal lands, including prohibiting the transport of noxious weeds into the U.S. and between states. Managers of state and federal lands, including National Guard installations, are mandated to prevent the spread of noxious weeds. The Federal Noxious Weed Act also outlines how noxious weed infestations are to be quarantined and controlled. Carlson-Foley Act (43 U.S.C. 1241) directs federal land-management agencies to destroy noxious weeds growing on land under their jurisdiction and provides a legal framework for reimbursement of expenses to state or local agencies for weed control on federal land. Utah Noxious Weed Act provides for the control and management of nonindigenous weeds that injure or have the potential to injure the interests of agriculture and commerce, wildlife resources, or the public health.
The installation INRMP includes management measures to prevent introduction or spread of noxious species and stray or feral animals that affect natural resources (DODI 4715.03). AR 200-1 (2007) specifies that the Director of Public Works act as the proponent for noxious weeds and invasive species management, and that an invasive species management component of the INRMP be prepared and implemented, consistent with specific federal or state initiatives and the applicable Integrated Pest Management Plan.
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is our primary invasive species of concern. It “cheats” by sprouting early and having multiple crops, thereby taking the place of desirable native bunchgrasses. Cheatgrass changes the vegetation community structure to where wildfire carries better across the landscape, increasing wildfire hazard. The NGUT tries to prevent it through maintenance of a healthy ecosystem and control it through herbicide.