Fort Hood Wins National Conservation Award | News

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The National Military Fish and Wildlife Association recognized the Fort Hood Natural Resource Management Branch as winners for the Natural Resource Conservation Management Model Program category during a ceremony March 16 in Spokane, Washington.

“In presenting this award, I want to highlight some of the many conservation accomplishments of the Fort Hood Natural Resources team…or I could stay here half an hour reviewing the wonderful things they do,” said Robby Smith, director-at-large, NMFWA.

The NMFWA communicates, informs, and coordinates with Department of Defense professionals to protect natural resources while supporting the military mission through sustainable resource conservation. Some of the programs Smith recognizes include monarch marking, integrated pest management, wildfire management, Christmas bird counts, and conservation birds and mission-sensitive species.

“They have the highest density of monarch detections that occur during fall migration, when monarchs return to wintering grounds and cross the central Texas flyway,” Smith said. “To better understand how monarchs use Fort Hood’s natural resources, the team implemented the Monarch Tagging Program in 2017. Since its inception, more than 9,500 monarchs have been captured, tagged, and released.”

Through the National Wildlife Federation Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Chad R. Foster will further exemplify the installation’s commitment to maintaining and restoring habitat monarchs with a signed proclamation at the end of the month.

“Having experienced the monarch tagging effort first hand with my son last fall, I truly appreciate the hard work, dedication and exemplary efforts of our biologists, conservationists, volunteers and community partners,” said Foster. “The Next Monarch Pledge demonstrates Fort Hood’s commitment to doing great things, educating the community, and promoting conservation and stewardship.”

During the awards ceremony, Smith also explained how Fort Hood, over the past two years, saved more than 40 hives from destruction by working with local beekeepers who collected the hives at no cost to the government. ; removed 2,280 feral pigs that caused horrific damage to training grounds and donated thousands of pounds of meat; and continued wildfire management of the largest contiguous natural landscape in his local region at more than 218,000 acres.

“We have a great team here at Natural Resources, and I’m proud of every member of our team. We all know what our job is at Fort Hood and we are all sincerely dedicated to improving Great Place,” said Tim Buchanan, Chief Natural and Cultural Resource Officer. “Of course, we could not accomplish our mission without the key partnerships that ensure the success of our daily contributions and provide shared benefits to Fort Hood and surrounding local communities.”

Dr. Amber Dankert, Fort Hood’s wildlife management supervisor, credits teamwork and partnerships with internal and external stakeholders to ensuring the success of mission readiness and sustainment.

“Our partnership with the Compatible Lands Foundation is helping Fort Hood create conservation easements and permanent protection of farmland that borders the facility,” Dankert said. “The benefits are a win for military training and the preservation of farmland that provides opportunities like the FEAT farm.”

The FEAT farm, known as the Farmer Education And Training farm, spans 72 acres purchased by the Compatible Lands Foundation through Fort Hood’s Army Compatible Use Buffer program and provides active duty agricultural training, veterans combatants and military family members.

Other program successes include 21 parcels and 5,282 acres protected in perpetuity; all easements monitored annually with zero easement violations; and established 1,000-foot internal buffers in maneuvering areas to minimize dust and noise complaints and alleviate safety concerns on nearby freeways.

“We have such a comprehensive program that we don’t just focus on one area,” said Virginia Sanders, Fort Hood’s endangered species supervisor. “We have strong programs at all levels in everything we do, from species that are listed to those we prevent from listing, to ecosystem management and collecting good baseline data.”

Sanders highlighted some of his team’s successes, including a Golden-Cheeked Warbler geolocation research project that will help better understand the species’ full life cycle, migration and wintering sites. migration connectivity; the Black-headed Vireo program which seeks the minimum level of cowbird control necessary to ensure the species continues to recover and maintain a healthy population; and using healthy fire enforcement as the state of Texas begins to get hotter, drier, and have more extreme fire behavior.

“Each person is a subject matter expert in their own field, but because our work requires an intensive field effort, we cannot collect all the data on our own,” Sanders said. “Whether it’s investigating deer or netting butterflies, we all need to support each other’s programs with manpower. We all need to help each other and we do a very good job of balancing this effort throughout the branch. »

The many initiatives of endangered species, wildlife management, and adaptive and integrative management programs illustrate how Fort Hood balances military readiness, while striving to conserve and maintain the species and habitat of fauna and flora.

“It’s several wonderful things you do for your model program,” Smith said. “It’s amazing and congratulations.”

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