The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF) is working with landowners, the Army National Guard, and other environmental organizations to protect two military bases: Ft. Pickett in Virginia and Ft. Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania. This effort is being done through the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program. The WBWF has conserved over 10,000 acres to date and is presently working on protecting an additional 9,000 acres! This large amount of protection is a significant success story for the military, landowners, communities, and the environment.
The ACUB program supports the Army’s military mission to protect our freedom. The Army needs bases and training lands for military exercises, training, soldier skill testing, and other operations. Training restrictions, costly workarounds, and compromised training realism can result from incompatible development surrounding the installation (external encroachment) and from threatened and endangered species on the installation (internal encroachment). Title 10, Section 2684a of the United States Code authorizes the Department of Defense to form agreements with organizations like the WBWF to limit encroachments and other constraints on military training, testing, and operations by establishing buffers around installations.
The ACUB program allows Ft. Pickett and Ft. Indiantown Gap to work with the WBWF to encumber off-post land to protect habitat and buffer training without acquiring any new land for Army ownership. This partnership preserves high-value habitat and limits incompatible development in the vicinity of military installations. Establishing buffer areas around Army installations limits the effects of encroachment and maximizes land inside the installation that can be used to support the installation’s mission.
Ward Burton and his Foundation bring a personal approach to landowners, and WBWF has established great partnerships such as The Nature Conservancy, The Virginia Outdoor Foundation, and the Virginia Department of Forestry that provide experience in natural resources, conservation, and land management. With everyone working together in concert, the military missions will be protected from encroachment while the beautiful rural landscapes of Virginia and Pennsylvania will be conserved for future generations.
The WBWF offers several options to landowners to reduce housing development, and landowners are paid for the alternative they choose. The options include conservation easements, deed restrictions, and purchase of the property if the landowner desires. Participation in this ACUB program is completely voluntary and is limited to properties within the military bases’ buffer areas. Landowners may also realize tax benefits on top of what the WBWF pays them. This is truly a win-win for everyone and conservation!