Hunting at Fort Riley

  • Hunting & Fishing Program Requirements

    The purpose of the Army's Hunting and Fishing Program is devoted to the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations through the sustainable multipurpose use of the resources, which includes hunting, fishing, and trapping.

    The Sikes Act, amended in 1997 with the Sikes Act Improvement Act, authorizes the installation commander to sell hunting and fishing permits. After covering the installation's administrative expenses of the program, remaining proceeds must be used to fund conservation initiatives on the installation where they are collected. In addition, the installation commander must manage fish and game resources to provide sustained multipurpose uses, as long as that management is consistent with the military mission.

    AR 200-1, paragraph 4-3, outlines the requirements for installation fish and wildlife programs:

    • Hunting, fishing, and trapping may be permitted on Army installations within the current huntable population levels and carrying capacities of specific wildlife habitats. Hunting and fishing may be limited, based on game population levels, on a daily or seasonal basis at the discretion of the natural resource staff.
    • Membership in an organization, including rod and gun clubs, is not a prerequisite for receiving permits or authorization to hunt, fish, or trap. Likewise, individuals will not receive priority in obtaining permits or authorization if they are members in an organization.
    • All hunting, fishing, or trapping must be in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations.

    In order to be eligible to hunt, fish, or trap on a military installation, individuals must obtain a license from the state in which the installation is located. Individuals must also receive a permit issued by the installation commander. If, because of residency requirements, state licenses are not available to some military personnel, commander may apply to ISE for approval to issue permits for military personnel without securing a state permit.

  • Hunting & Fishing History

    The Army manages more than 12 million acres of land, much of which is undeveloped and is wildlife habitat. Before the mid-1950s, hunting was permitted on installations to control wildlife populations and keep the land from being over browsed. However, there was no real structure to the management of these hunting programs. Wildlife management focused on the enforcement of state and federal fish and game laws, rather than applying scientific and technical principles to wildlife populations and habitats so as to maintain such populations for ecological, recreational, or scientific purposes.

    Consistent hunting policies did not exist for military installations until the passage of the Engle Act in 1958. The act tried to resolve basic conflicts between the military and civilian conservation agencies by requiring that all hunting, fishing, and trapping on military installations be conducted in accordance with state and federal laws. The Engle Act also required state licenses for hunting and fishing and granted installation access to conservation officials to support management and conservation activities.

    Until the passage of the Sikes Act in 1960, installation commanders did not make public recreation a high priority and regarded it as incompatible with military training. Most hunting and fishing was limited to military personnel. The passage of the Sikes Act, which permitted hunting and fishing fees to be collected and retained at the installation level, provided installations with an incentive to allow greater public access.

    The Sikes Act was passed to "promote effectual planning, development, maintenance, and coordination of wildlife, fish, and game conservation and rehabilitation in military reservations," and it provided the legal basis for wildlife conservation on military lands. It authorized public recreational access to military land and the collection of fees for this privilege. It also authorized the formation of cooperative plans among the DoD, the Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, and state fish and wildlife agencies. The passage of the Sikes Act led to the widespread opening of military areas to public recreation in the early 1960s. Although outdoor recreation included camping, picnicking, boating, swimming, and a host of other outdoor activities, hunting and fishing were in greatest demand by the public at that time.

    In addition to the Sikes Act requirements that military installations develop management plans and consult with state and federal fish and game agencies, Army regulations specified the wildlife management techniques that should be used. In 1966, AR 420-74 identified habitat improvement as the primary means of wildlife management. The stocking of species and introduction of nonnative species was discouraged, as was the wholesale destruction of predator species.

    Today, the Army's Hunting and Fishing Program is devoted to the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations through the sustainable multipurpose use of the resources, which includes hunting, fishing, and trapping.

  • Forestry Program Requirements

    The modern Army forester sees Army lands as an integral part of Army training that also provide biological diversity, wildlife habitat, air and water quality, soil conservation, watershed protection, and recreational opportunities. While all installations with forests have forestry responsibilities, not all installations have reimbursable forestry programs.

    Certain criteria must be met and maintained for an installation to establish a reimbursable forestry program.

    The program must support the military mission. Activities of the program must not encumber land that is needed for conducting mission operations. While pursuing and planning reimbursable activities, natural resource managers must coordinate with mission operators to identify opportunities to improve long-term mission access to land, increase training realism, and improve training flexibility.

    The program must comply with federal laws, including but not limited to:


    The program must follow installation safety restrictions.

    Forest management must be documented in the installation Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan and any component Endangered Species Management Plan (ESMP). The INRMP and ESMP must be developed in accordance with NEPA and 32 CFR 651, Environmental Analysis of Army Actions. DoD guidance on the Sikes Act Improvement Act and Army regulatory guidance require that forest management be incorporated in the INRMP. The INRMP should include detailed plans for forestry operations, including, but not limited to, silvicultural prescriptions, reforestation, timber harvest activities, and prescribed burns.

    The program must be a fiscally sound investment capable of ecosystem sustainability.

  • Forestry History

    In the past, the role of Army foresters was to manage and develop forest resources for the commercial production of forest products. Both this role and the management of the Army's forestry program have changed in response to mission needs, land management philosophies, and environmental stewardship requirements.

    During World War I, the U.S. forces in Europe required vast quantities of wood products, such as lumber, railroad ties, poles, piling, bridge timbers, cordwood, and stakes for barbed wire. American foresters were sent to Europe to assist in local wood procurement operations. While forestry operations were proceeding in Europe, the first U.S. Army installation forestry program was implemented in 1918 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Defense formed Military National Forests cooperatively, planning that these areas could be used jointly for Army training and timber production. Because of jurisdictional disputes, the Secretary of Agriculture requested release from the agreement and suggested that the Army independently conduct forestry operations on Army lands by employing civilian foresters. Some installations attempted to follow this advice, but for the most part Army forestry programs were in a state of inactivity until World War II.

    The advent of World War II meant that, as in World War I, forest products would be needed for war material. Large supplies of U.S. timber were assembled for shipment to Europe. However, the Allied Forces were able to obtain the necessary timber in Europe, and the U.S. supplies were not needed. Following the war, the U.S. timber products generated as part of the war effort were sold as surplus property. The sale of these surplus products showed that significant supplies of timber existed on U.S. military lands.

    In 1947, the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, requested that the USFS conduct a study of installation resources and make recommendations to place the forests under sound management plans. These first forest management plans provided for personnel, improvements, equipment, and a harvesting schedule.

    In 1956, legislation was passed that established a reimbursable fund for the DoD's forestry program (Sale of Certain Interests in Land; Logs. 10 USC 2665). This established the program that is known today as the Army conservation reimbursable forestry program. Congress provided authority for the military departments to retain the receipts from sales of forest products; these receipts would otherwise have been deposited as miscellaneous receipts in the U.S. Treasury. The law stated that "appropriations of the DoD available for operation and maintenance may be reimbursed during the current fiscal year ... for all expenses of production of lumber or timber products ... from amounts received as proceeds from the sale" of timber.

    Following the passage of the law, the forestry program expanded and management activities increased. Over the next 7 years, the number of woodland acres increased from 1.1 million to 1.5 million, and the gross income derived from these lands increased from $10.5 million to $26.7 million. In 1967, Army installations planted a total of 9,742 acres of trees, completed 20,672 acres of stand improvement, built 1,108 miles of fire lanes and access roads, maintained 6,753 miles of road, harvested trees from 129,000 acres, and conducted controlled burns on 197,000 acres. In addition, 89 million board feet and 205,000 cords of wood were sold from Army lands.

    Since the 1961 authorization to use timber sale proceeds to reimburse program expenses, the Army-wide forestry program has only once required appropriated funds. That occurred in 1982 with the creation of the state entitlement program. This program was developed in response to complaints by state and local officials that Army installations had removed large blocks of land from the local tax base. To compensate for the tax revenue loss, the state entitlement program required installations to distribute 25 percent of net proceeds from timber sales to the host states, which in turn distributed the money to the host counties. The revenues distributed to the states are intended to be used for roads and schools. The state share of the entitlement rose to 40 percent in 1984.

    Unlike the initial focus on soil stabilization, erosion control, and coordinating the production of commercial forestry products, the modern Army forester sees Army lands as an integral part of Army training that also provide biological diversity, wildlife habitat, air and water quality, soil conservation, watershed protection, and recreational opportunities. While all installations with forests have forestry responsibilities, not all installations have reimbursable forestry programs.

  • Outlease Program Requirements

    The Army operates under an ecosystem approach of land management. The DoD policy on ecosystem management, issued in 1996, is still applicable today. Ecosystem management is an integrated approach to managing natural systems and all their component parts: soil, water, wildlife, and vegetation. The policy supports multiple-use activities, including agriculture outleasing, when compatible with the mission and long-term ecosystem management goals. The military mission is the primary objective and agriculture and grazing outleases must support mission activities.

    According to AR 405-80, Management of Title and Granting Use of Real Property, the goals of the Army's outgrant programs are:

    • Ensure proper managemt and use of real property for mission purposes
    • Promote multiple uses of Army lands
    • Minimize additional real property acquisition
    • Reduce maintenance and custody costs
    • Dispose of real property interests that are no longer required for Army needs
    • Reduce Army management responsibilities

    The following requirements must be met to establish an agriculture and grazing outleasing program:

    The granted uses of the land must be in the best interest of the United States to promote national defense or be in the best interest of the public.

    The agricultural and grazing activities must comply with the multiple-use concept and the requirement for installations to improve, utilize, and maintain all land and water areas for the greatest public benefits while supporting the military mission.

    Agricultural and grazing outleases must comply with:

    • National Environmental Policy Act
    • Endangered Species Act
    • The National Historic Preservation Act

    Agriculture and grazing outleases and the management of leased lands must be documented in the installation Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan and in Endangered Species Management Plans.

    If the outleases affect or have the potential to affect threatened or endangered species, consultation is required.

    If an outlease could affect historic properties, including archeological site consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, American Indian tribes, and other stakeholders might necessary under 36 CFR 800.

    A Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil and water conservation plan (or equivalent) must be prepared for each agriculture and grazing outlease. These plans contain technical provisions and conservation practices to ensure that lease comply with Best Management Practices for agriculture and are compatible with ecosystem management.

  • Outlease History

    Army agricultural leasing began during World War II as farmers leased open space around airfields and ammunition storage sites. The temporary nature of outleasing makes it an excellent technique for dealing with excess land: if the Army needs the leased land in the future then the leases can be revoked. By 1956, the Army was leasing 992,894 acres for agriculture and grazing purposes. National policy required that leases be formed in consultation with county agriculture agents for technical guidance on crop rotation and soil management.

    The Army recognized that agriculture and grazing outleases provided benefits that went beyond the lease payments received. The lessees also provided mowing, weed and brush control, fence construction and repair, correction of drainage problems, construction of fire lanes, and control of field rodents on leased lands.

    Another benefit was a lowered fire risk because the agriculture and grazing operations on the leased lands reduced underbrush and grasses that could fuel fires. Fire maintenance was a persistent concern and an ongoing management problem for installations. The reduced fire risk on outleased lands freed installations to concentrate their limited maintenance budget on other areas.

    Leasing was actively promoted up until and during the 1960s. This coincided with the DoD’s land management strategy of multiple-use and sustained yield. AR 420-74, Land Forest and Wildlife Management, described the Army’s land management approach as "a coordinated program of land management and improvement … applied on a multiple use basis to provide maximum military use; control vegetation to prevent destructive fires; stabilize soil to control erosion; protect natural resources; sustain productivity of croplands, grasslands, and timberlands; and encourage fish and wildlife."

    When the outleasing program began, lease income was deposited into the U.S. Treasury. In 1964, the Office of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army studied the possibility of installations retaining lease income for base maintenance. However, no sponsor volunteered to champion the cause and no change resulted. Two decades would pass before the agriculture and grazing outlease program would be established as a reimbursable program.

    By the end of the 1960s, the growing public awareness of environmental issues coincided with increased pressure to use government lands for recreation. These factors influenced Army leasing decisions. The 1966 update of AR 420-74 required that conservation measures be incorporated into lease agreements and carried out by the lessee. In addition, whenever possible, leases should include provisions for public recreational use of leased lands.

    During the late 1970s and early 1980s, agricultural leasing continued to be promoted throughout the Army as an inexpensive means of managing land and resources. At that time, approximately 850,000 acres of land were leased on 60 Army installations. Leasing for crop production occurred on approximately 160,000 acres; the balance was leased for grazing. Lessees were required to adhere to proper agricultural practices for erosion control and to enhance soil fertility and productivity. Additional benefits of outleasing were recognized during this time, including improved public relations with local farmers and enhancement of habitat and food sources for wildlife. The importance of good public relations grew as public knowledge about conservation issues and awareness of Army activities increased.

    In 1983, military installations were granted the authority to use revenues gained from leasing for the improvement of agriculture lands. This had the effect of increasing incentives to offer land for lease. The ability to retain and use lease proceeds provided a measure of funding stability to the agriculture and grazing outlease program. The program became largely self-sustaining and had less need to compete for scarce appropriated funds.

    Today, the Army operates under an ecosystem approach of land management. The DoD policy on ecosystem management, issued in 1996, is still applicable today. Ecosystem management is an integrated approach to managing natural systems and all their component parts: soil, water, wildlife, and vegetation. The policy supports multiple-use activities, including agriculture outleasing, when compatible with the mission and long-term ecosystem management goals. The military mission is the primary objective and agriculture and grazing outleases must support mission activities.