We look forward to partnering with all organizations, local governments and agencies like the Department of Defense and Bureau of Land Management to achieve lasting protection of the California desert in support of our military services and for the enjoyment of current and future generations
Jeff Aardahl, California representative
12
June
2017
|
11:05 PM
America/New_York

For Immediate Release

New Study Provides Framework to Maintain and Protect Military Mission and Environment in California Desert

Media contact: Catalina Tresky: ctresky@defenders.org or (202) 772-0253 

WASHINGTON (June 12, 2017) – Today, The Sonoran Institute released “Evaluating Encroachment Pressures on the Military Mission in the California Desert Region,” a study that provides a framework for federal, state and local agencies, communities, conservation organizations and U.S. Military Services to work collaboratively on maintaining and protecting military missions while conserving natural landscapes and ecosystems.

Jeff Aardahl, California representative for Defenders of Wildlife who assisted The Sonoran Institute in preparing the report, issued the following statement:

“As the largest intact desert in the country, the California desert is a diverse landscape that supports a myriad of native plants and vulnerable species -- many protected by state and federal law -- such as the desert tortoise, golden eagle, desert kit fox and desert bighorn sheep. The California desert is also vital in maintaining critical military missions at five large bases operated by the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

“This report reveals how military missions and protection of the natural environment in the California desert are inextricably linked. The study provides new opportunities for a variety of agencies and public groups to protect sensitive resources throughout the California desert and gives all stakeholders a road map to achieve conservation goals and sustainable land use activities that are compatible with military missions.

“We look forward to partnering with all organizations, local governments and agencies like the Department of Defense and Bureau of Land Management to achieve lasting protection of the California desert in support of our military services and for the enjoyment of current and future generations.”

Background:

The Sonoran Institute Report

The Sonoran Institute's new report, based on extensive coordination with and input from Department of Defense and military services personnel, identifies existing and future land uses in the California desert that pose direct and indirect threats to the mission at five military installations in the California desert. Utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information layers depicting existing and foreseeable development activities in the region, the Institute identified numerous activities (e.g., mining, urban development, renewable energy projects, energy transmission, concentrated off-highway recreation and groundwater pumping) that constitute encroachment threats to ongoing and future military missions.

A series of forums will be held in the region on June 28-29 to share more on the report and to provide planners and local decision-makers with tools to ensure successful collaboration.

Department of Defense Conservation Efforts in the Desert

Nearly 80 percent of military operations in this region occur on or over federally owned lands. Military bases analyzed in the study include Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (China Lake), Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Edwards Air Force Base, Fort Irwin National Training Center and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (29 Palms).

In the past two decades, the Department of Defense has spent close to $200 million to protect sensitive wildlife on its bases while maintaining or enhancing battlefield realism.

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