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Message from the Director

When giving a summary overview of the REPI Program, it’s easy to articulate the link between the three fundamental components of the program: readiness, compatible development, and habitat protection. But the program’s REPI buffer partnerships are far more nuanced than can be described in a short conversation. These partnerships address the specific needs of individual communities and installations in varying and creative ways.

In a number of partnerships, this creativity has manifested in buffer projects adding a fourth element to the fundamental REPI components: veterans’ programs. This newsletter will highlight three installations, Fort Pickett, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base - Dare County Bombing Range, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where our partners are taking advantage of the talent and unique skillsets of veterans to train future wildland firefighters and land managers, and using the land to foster community between veterans from the Vietnam War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Partnerships like the three featured, the REPI Challenge, and Sentinel Landscapes illustrate the evolution of the REPI Program, and demonstrate that the program has the ability to leverage a far greater impact on installations and communities than originally envisioned. In all of these examples, the key to their successes began with an idea conceived by partners on the ground. As you read this newsletter, if any of the highlighted concepts stand out to you, please reach out to the listed contacts or the REPI office to start a discussion about how your idea(s) could benefit the local installation, community, environment, and any other stakeholders. 

The other thing we are excited to highlight this month is the new REPI Web Mapping Application, which is available on www.REPI.mil and at www.REPImap.org. I encourage you to take advantage of this new tool!

Enjoy the rest of the summer,
Kristin Thomasgard-Spence

Spotlight: Veterans + REPI Buffer Partnerships

Dare County Bombing Range (Seymour Johnson AFB), North Carolina

At Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (AFB) in North Carolina, the parent installation of Dare County Bombing Range, active duty structural firefighters are training in wildland fire to add a new skillset to their resumes ahead of transitioning into the civilian workforce. 

This pilot program was the brainchild of a Seymour Johnson active duty firefighter and Jennifer Evans, a prescribed fire expert at North Carolina State University. In conjunction with the North Carolina Forest Service, a nationally recognized wildland fire training curriculum was used to build on Service Members’ structural - or building-related - firefighting skills. Twenty active duty men and women volunteered to be a part of the program, which focuses on prescribed burning, wildfire suppression, and fire preparedness. The training curriculum followed the national standard for wildland firefighter training so that after separation from active duty, and with an annual skills refresher, the twenty trainees will be able to use their new skills in North Carolina or elsewhere across the country. The final stage of training brings the Service Members out into the field as volunteers to assist the North Carolina Forest Service on prescribed burns in nearby forests. This, in turn, will also allow the North Carolina Forest Service to increase their capacity to conduct more burns.

Seymour Johnson AFB and Dare County Bombing Range are both located in the Southeastern U.S. within the historic range of longleaf pine, and fire is a critically important tool for maintaining the health of the ecosystem.  Longleaf pine forests are home to a number of rare, threatened, or endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, and the Louisiana pine snake. Restoring and maintaining the longleaf pine ecosystem through prescribed fire helps to bolster the populations of these species, and reduce training and testing restrictions for the military in places like Dare County Bombing Range. Therefore, this training program provides Service Members with the opportunity to bridge their military and civilian careers and continue to have an impact on military readiness long after they separate from active duty.

Contact Jennifer Evans, Prescribed Fire Extension Associate at the North Carolina State University, for more information at jlevans3@ncsu.edu.

Fort Pickett, Virginia

When Ward Burton, former NASCAR driver and founder of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF), partnered with Fort Pickett in Virginia to protect land around the installation, he knew he had an additional opportunity to make a difference.

Working together with REPI and the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Program, WBWF has helped to protect over 5,800 acres in Fort Pickett’s high priority area between 2008 and the end of fiscal year 2014. With the goal of maximizing the intrinsic value of these acres to the installation and local community, WBWF gives the hunting and fishing rights on the protected lands to Fort Pickett personnel, and works with these individuals to ensure that local veterans, many of whom were trained or based at the Fort, are aware of, and encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity.

Through this partnership with the military, WBWF established and continues to host a bi-annual event at WBWF’s 2,000-acre property in Halifax, VA. The one-day “American Heroes” event, put on each fall and spring in collaboration with multiple partners including the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, Freedom Alliance, and the VFW, invites veterans and their families to WBWF’s property. The participants compete in archery and shooting sports contests, fish from a wheelchair-accessible dock, and attend a job fair with professional networking opportunities. The event culminates in a fully-catered dinner and awards ceremony for the prizes won earlier in the day.

Prior to working with Fort Pickett through the REPI Program and ACUB Program, WBWF had already been placing conservation easements on working and natural lands in Virginia in support of WBWF’s mission and vision to practice conservation and protect rural lands for future generations. The opportunity to partner with Fort Pickett, in Ward Burton’s opinion, was a “win-win” for everyone. Through events like American Heroes and land conservation projects around Fort Pickett, WBWF simultaneously protects and provides access to Virginia’s natural resources while supporting the military and veterans.

Contact Ward Burton, founder of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, for more information at wardburton1961@gmail.com.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

Enacted through state legislation in 2005, the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Conservation Corps (VCC) aims to educate veterans about conservation through hands-on work experience and give program graduates a competitive advantage in the environmental job field. Through a collaborative partnership opportunity identified by the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM), one of the primary partners in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) REPI buffer partnership and Sentinel Landscape, the VCC and CNLM created an internship program for veterans to learn land management and conservation skills while working on lands on and around the installation.

JBLM contains some of the last remaining prairie habitat in the Pacific Northwest, which supports three Federally threatened and endangered species: Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, streaked horned lark, and the Mazama pocket gopher. While many acres of prairie lands around JBLM have been successfully protected, these lands require active and continuing management to remain suitable for the species that rely on them.

Together with WDVA, CNLM developed a training curriculum for VCC participants tailored to the unique prairie habitat of the area. As CNLM has already been actively engaged in habitat restoration and management, VCC participants are able to take advantage of CNLM’s knowledge base and network of conservation partners. During the course of the internship, veterans can train in prescribed burning, plant identification, non-target species removal, seed harvesting, and other conservation techniques, and meet monthly for resume building and job interview strategy seminars.

More than twenty veterans have taken advantage of the VCC-CNLM program since its inception in 2014, and CNLM is confident the program will continue to grow, especially as word of the opportunity spreads to veterans across Puget Sound. Through the VCC, veterans not only receive job training that utilizes skillsets gained as active duty Service Members, but the collaboration with CNLM provides a new opportunity for veterans to support national defense. In this new capacity, veterans help to restore and strengthen the prairie habitat outside of JBLM, thereby increasing the base’s flexibility to use its land for required training and helping to sustain JBLM’s military mission.

For more information please contact:
Jason Alves, Washington Department of Veteran’s Affairs (JasonA@dva.wa.gov)
Hannah Anderson, Center for Natural Lands Management (handerson@cnlm.org)

Seymour Johnson AFB firefighters dig a fire line.

Active duty firefighters from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base dig a fire line during wildland firefighter training. Courtesy: Jennifer Evans.

A veteran competes at the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation's American Heroes event

A veteran competes at the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation's American Heroes event. Courtesy: Tom Inge.

NFWF Announces $4.6 Million in Funding for Restoration of Longleaf Pine Forests and Ecosystems Across the Southeast

On June 30, 2015, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced $4.6 million in funding for restoration of longleaf pine forests and ecosystems across the Southeast.  The grants are administered by NFWF’s Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and private organizations. Funding was awarded to 22 projects across the historic longleaf range that ultimately will restore more than 11,600 acres and enhance more than 163,000 additional acres of longleaf pine habitat, while leveraging over $6.4 million in additional funds from grant partners.

“The Longleaf Stewardship Fund provides a tremendous opportunity for DoD to work with partners to achieve wide ranging benefits for the military,” said John Conger, performing the duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations and Environment). “Protection and restoration of longleaf pine forests strengthens military readiness by promoting compatible land uses near military facilities and enhances habitat for imperiled species, which in turn provides greater flexibility for our training, testing and operational missions.  In 2015, as a result of our partnership with NFWF, approximately 11 dollars will be spent by our partners for every dollar DoD spends, resulting in over 5,500 acres of longleaf established and 87,676 additional acres enhanced to benefit seven military installations. Working with partners in the Longleaf Stewardship Fund helps DoD achieve beneficial outcomes in support of national defense, and we’re glad to continue to be a part of the effort.”

Installations benefitting from the Fund this year include Fort Bragg, Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, Fort Stewart/Townsend Bombing Range, Tyndall AFB, Fort Benning, Camp Blanding, and Eglin AFB/NAS Whiting Field. Read the full NFWF announcement here.

REPI Web Mapping Application Now Available

Screenshot of the REPI WMA.

We are pleased to announce the release of the REPI web mapping application, now available through the REPI website and at www.REPImap.org. The purpose of this tool is to provide partners with GIS locations of all military installations with completed REPI transactions, along with relevant information and resources for these projects. As a user, you can:

• View military installations with REPI projects and query them based on set criteria.
• Access REPI-specific funding and acreage information. 
• Link to REPI buffer project fact sheets.
• Navigate to state policy options for supporting military installations and ranges.
• Research and customize REPI data for multiple installations at the local-, state-, and regional-level.
• Zoom in to view boundaries of REPI installations and other DoD (non-REPI) installations. 

A detailed user guide is under development and will be available soon, and more data layers will be added to the web mapping application in the coming months. Keep checking back for updates, and in the meantime, please contact us at osd.repi@mail.mil with your questions or feedback on this new tool.


Join us for this online series on best practices, tutorials, and knowledge sharing on REPI partnerships that support the military mission and accelerate the pace and rate of land conservation. Our 2015 REPI Webinar Schedule is now on the website and can be downloaded here.

Upcoming Webinars

Using State Planning Tools – State Wildlife Plans and Forest Action Plans
Summary: State wildlife action plans and forest actions plans are important tools and resources for augmenting your on- and off-installation conservation and buffering efforts. Learn how these plans can inform our own planning and their importance to conservation grant programs.
When: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 1:00PM ET.
For instructions to join the webinar, please go to:

NRCS and Other USDA Conservation Programs
Summary: This webinar will survey various USDA conservation programs that can now be used as funding match to REPI Program funds. Highlights will include NRCS programs and the use of Agricultural Conservation Easement Program funds as match by the Trust for Public Land at Vandenberg AFB.
When: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 1:00 PM ET.
For instructions to join the webinar, please go to:

Past Webinars

If you missed the most recent REPI webinars, "REPI Help Session” and “Better Integrating Natural Resources Management with Your REPI Project” please visit the REPI website to view the webinar recordings or contact us for more information. Below is a sampling of some key points and lessons learned from the recent webinars.

REPI Help Session
• The annual Help Session webinar provided detailed information about the FY 2016 REPI buffer proposal guidance. Installations should tell the story of their projects, with a focus on their long-term planning strategy, end state objectives, and the value of the REPI investment in protecting the mission. The more quantifiable information in the proposal the better!
• All applicants should read the Guide thoroughly and refer to the webinar recording for additional information, or feel free to contact the REPI office or your Service headquarters.

Better Integrating Natural Resources Management with Your REPI Project
• There are a number of different authorities and tools to address natural resources issues, especially management of habitat both on- and off-installation because protecting land is not enough – restoration and habitat management are needed to achieve conservation outcomes.
• The Air Force’s strategic plan for a regional approach to addressing natural resources encroachment constraints in Florida exemplifies how to leverage partner resources and planning – it will combine partner data, modeling, and priorities with existing Air Force natural resource plans and GIS data.
• A regional strategic plan, rather than looking at a single installation, can offer a holistic conservation approach for installations and partners and can help supplement and be incorporated into REPI projects or other encroachment mitigation programs.

REPI in the News

Sentinel Landscapes Program Aims to Shield Camp Ripley from Sprawl
The Brainerd Dispatch (Brainerd, MN) reports that Minnesota is the first state in the nation to implement its own version of a federal program designed to protect military bases from encroaching development. The new law designates land around Camp Ripley as a “sentinel landscape.” Meaning the state provides financial incentives for nearby landowners to voluntarily limit development. Read the full legisation here.