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News | March 2, 2010

Conservation Efforts on Navy Installations Recognized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

By Tracey Moriarty Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division

Three United States Navy installations have been nominated for the 2009 Military Installation Conservation Partner Award by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 

This award recognizes military installations that have accomplished outstanding work in cooperation with USFWS to promote conservation on military lands during the past year.

Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nevada; Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas; and Barry M. Goldwater Range, Arizona learned of the nomination the last week of February. 

NAS Fallon's Environmental Program partners with the Fish and Wildlife Service's Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (NFWO) and Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) to implement conservation actions on lands managed by NAS Fallon.

Two species benefitting from Navy conservation are the Dixie Valley tui chub, a fish, and a recently discovered species of toad. Both species are endemic to west-central Nevada. The toad occurs at only a few wetlands and the tui chub occurs in two small ponds. Threats to the toad and tui chub include non-native plant and animal species, water exportation, and small population sizes.

The Navy partnered with the NFWO, SNWR, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and the University of Nevada-Reno to implement actions for the benefit of local wildlife. These actions included species status surveys, fencing, noxious weed control, prescribed burns, translocations, and grazing management.

The population of the tui chub has increased about 200 percent as a result of the Navy's efforts. New information about the recently discovered species of toad will be used to develop a Candidate Conservation Agreement between the NFWO and the Navy.

NAS Kingsville's land includes a diverse collection of endangered species, at-risk species, and migratory bird species of concern. Endangered species include piping plovers, Harris and black hawks, cactus ferruginous pygmy owls, burrowing owls, green jays, the Texas tortoise, indigo snake, alligators, and the south Texas ambrosia (a plant).

The Navy's work with USFWS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and other partners have benefitted these species through working management plans, prescribed burns, brush removal, and bird, reptile and amphibian surveys.

As a result of the Navy's efforts and partnerships, thousands of acres of wetlands, coastal grasslands, riverine, and neotropical scrublands are being protected and managed by the Navy in south Texas.

Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR), cooperatively managed by the United States Air Force and United States Marine Corps, has a long-standing cooperative relationship with USFWS to support one of the largest single landowner segments (about 1.5 million acres) of Sonoran desert in the U.S. The Sonoran desert eco-region has the highest diversity of native plants of any desert in the world, with more than 2,500 pollinator species and more than 600 native fish and wildlife species including more than two-thirds of all migratory bird species in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Conservation efforts at BMGR include the creation of the Sonoran Desert Military Ranges Conservation Partnership Team (Sonoran Team) to focus on threatened, endangered, and at-risk species conservation management. The Sonoran Team formally joined in partnership with the Sonoran Joint Venture to prioritize collaborative bird conservation work on the international Sonoran desert landscape. This was the first conservation partnership between military, USFWS, and state to join formally with a migratory bird Joint Venture in the U.S.

Additional efforts include management of the flat-tailed horned lizard, implementation of a conservation management program for the Sonoran desert tortoise, and conservation of the endangered lesser long-nosed bat.

BMGR also serves as an epicenter for recovery actions for the endangered Sonoran pronghorn antelope, the most endangered mammal in North America. Together, Luke Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma have significantly contributed to the conservation and recovery of this species.

The Military Conservation Partner Award will be presented by USFWS on March 25.