OPS 1-1
Natural resources management for military mission support

Monday, August 5, 2013
Exhibit Hall B, Minneapolis Convention Center
John C. Marshall, MWH Global, Inc.
Nicole Troyer-Jacobsen, 673 CES/Ceanc, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Jber, AK

The Department of Defense (DoD) is the fifth largest land manager in the U.S.; limited access has resulted in military lands being some of the last remaining and/or best preserved examples of natural ecosystems. The Sikes Act is the legislative mandate providing for natural resources management on DoD lands and states specifically, "The Secretary of Defense shall carry out a program to provide for the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations." 

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) is located in Anchorage, Alaska. The 74,600-acre installation is unique -- elevations range from sea level to over 5,000 feet and include 78 distinct ecosystem types. Roughly 700 species of vascular plants, 134 species of birds, and 33 species of land-mammals are found on JBER. The installation contains 17.5 miles of saltwater coastline, 134 miles of streams, and 686 acres of lakes and ponds -- habitat for 14 fish species and feeding areas for the federally-endangered marine mammal, Cook Inlet beluga whale (CIBW).

The JBER Conservation Program mission is to support the military and enhance readiness by providing natural environments for training, minimizing conflicts between military requirements and land and natural resources uses and wildlife, and serving as stewards by maintaining natural features and ecosystem integrity at a broad landscape scale.


Accomplishing this mission involves close cooperation between university, government, and private enterprise collaborators. Significant recent achievements of the JBER Conservation Program include:

·       Long-Term Ecological Trend Monitoring: Implemented a program to establish historic and baseline natural resources information and develop habitat associations for use in managing and monitoring priority species. Significantly improved wetlands information through use of high-resolution aerial imagery and field verification.

·       Fish and Wildlife Management: Partnered with researchers to identify predator/prey and migratory bird patterns, travel corridors, and eagle nests.

·       Threatened and Endangered Species Management:  Implemented an innovative and autonomous monitoring system to detect and broadcast CIBW presence in real-time. Installed and operated the first-ever fish wheel and sonar in Eagle River to identify salmon run timing/strength and improved salmon habitat in the Sixmile Lake System.

·       Vegetation Management including Urban Forestry, Wildland Fire, and Invasive Species Control: 15 years as a “Tree City USA” recipient. Initiated first-ever urban forest inventory in 2012. Planted 3,000 seedlings and allowed roughly three acres of semi-improved land to return to native forest types to reduce Bird-Aircraft Strike Hazard risk and mowing costs.