Air Force Partnership Project Kickoff
On 3 March, in Panama City, Florida, partners met to initiate a new project developed by Air Force entitled “The Florida Strategic Plan for Sustaining Military Readiness through Conservation Partnerships.” This project strives to provide a regional approach to natural resource management that will help minimize encroachment threats to Air Force missions and identify partner-leveraged conservation opportunities throughout the state of Florida. This project will be executed through existing LCC partners and similar prioritization efforts, piggy-backing on Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project and Cooperative Conservation Blueprint.
The core team developing the product, which will consist of both a strategic plan and a geospatial component, includes Air Force, HDR Environmental, the University of Florida, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, The Nature Conservancy, and National Wildlife Refuges Association. In addition, many other critical partners such as local stakeholders to the bases, landowners, and non-profit conservation groups will be brought into the process.
This large project will cover land on and surrounding Air Force bases throughout Florida including Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Tyndall AFB, Avon Park Bombing Range, Patrick AFB, MacDill AFB, Homestead Air Reserve Base, and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Base visits will begin in May 2015, and this project is expected to be completed by May 2016. Conservation opportunities that provide Air Force with the mission flexibility needed, buffering to military lands, and mitigation for listed, candidate, proposed and state-listed species will be prioritized. This is the first conservation project of this scope for Air Force and will likely serve as an example nationwide of how proactive conservation hand-in-hand with partners can result in a highly supported effort with potentially more success for everyone involved.