October 27, 2020

Compatible Lands Foundation Expands Conservation Partnerships with the US Army

Joe Knott, Director of Military Partnerships

In September 2020, the Compatible Lands Foundation (CLF) was selected through a competitive process to be the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program partners for Fort Cavazos (Texas) and Fort Campbell (Kentucky). The U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) oversaw the process and made the final selection. As the program partner, CLF received funding to protect military readiness at both locations by preserving compatible land use near the installations.

Funding for this work comes from the Department of Defense (DoD)’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program. The REPI program is a key tool for combating encroachment that can limit or restrict military training, testing, and operations. The REPI Program protects these military missions by helping remove or avoid land-use conflicts near installations and addressing regulatory restrictions that inhibit military activities. 

Formed in 2009, the mission of the Compatible Lands Foundation is promote the conservation, restoration, and preservation of land and natural resources and to foster compatible land uses among both public and private landowners. CLF currently works with 10 installations in 7 states to create open space buffers around installations in order to protect military readiness.

Fort Cavazos is one such installation, and training there is vital to our nation’s defense. It is the largest active duty armored post in the entire Armed Services, encompassing 217,337 acres in central Texas, with over 65,000 soldiers. The post supports the most intensive and varied training programs of any installation in the contiguous United States.  Training exercises generate noise, dust or smoke, which can be problematic if development on adjacent land occurs too close to the post (aka encroachment) or is incompatible with the conditions needed for training (e.g. dark skies).

By purchasing conservation easements from willing landowners in high priority zones around Fort Cavazos, the Army-CLF partnership under this program will conserve in-perpetuity (forever) over 19,000 acres of land located near the installation, particularly those parcels located near heavily used maneuver lanes and live-fire ranges. Protecting these lands will also protect the local agricultural heritage of the region, as well as, the recreational uses of the land while maintaining the military mission so important to the local economy.

Fort Campbell is home to the only air assault division in the world, the 101st Airborne Division. The installation serves the third largest military community of the US Army, supporting 30,000 soldiers. Because the post is located amid abundant rural lands along the Kentucky-Tennessee border and a large national recreation area, it is well suited for supporting aviation operations.

To protect its training mission from nearby growing towns, CLF’s partnership with the Army will focus on the conservation of working farmlands. Working with willing landowners, CLF will purchase conservation easements, thereby protecting in-perpetuity approximately 10,000 acres of land located near the installation. This effort will prevent incompatible development from encroaching on night-vision and aviation training missions at Fort Campbell’s critical training assets

like Sabre Army Heliport and Campbell Army Airfield. This effort will also help sustain working farms and prime agricultural lands while positively contributing to Fort Campbell’s training mission.

Robert Gregory, Executive Director for CLF, says this funding will help CLF continue important work and relationships that CLF has been building at the installations and in the surrounding communities for many years. “I am thrilled that CLF was selected as the partner organization to do this work. We have been working with installation leadership and community members for over a decade, and this funding will enable us to continue to work together to protect military readiness, conserve land and to support the local economy.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the programs at these installations, please contact:
Fort Cavazos: Anita Harless, Texas Project Manager, Email: aharless@compatiblelands.org

Fort Campbell: Glen Bauer, Fort Campbell Project Manager, Email: gbauer@compatiblelands.org

To learn more about Compatible Lands Foundation and to support our work, please visit: www.compatiblelands.org.