- What is it?
The Sikes Act Improvement Act (SAIA), as amended, promotes effectual planning, development, maintenance, and coordination of wildlife, fish, and game conservation and rehabilitation in military reservations. The SAIA authorizes the Secretary of Defense to carry out a program to provide for the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources (lands, waters, airspace, and coastal resources) on military installations while allowing the military lands to continue to meet the needs of military operations.
Title 16 of the United States Code (USC) §670, commonly referred to as the “Sikes Act,” is a law requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop and implement Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs) when appropriate, for military installations across the United States. INRMPs are prepared in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA-Fisheries) (if applicable), and state fish and wildlife agencies and should reflect the mutual agreement of the parties concerning conservation, protection, and management of fish and wildlife resources. Finally, the SAIA ensures, to the extent feasible, that sufficient number of professionally trained natural resources management personnel and natural resources law enforcement personnel are available and assigned responsibility to carry out all of 16 USC §670.
- What has the Army done?
The Army has 157 installations with significant natural resources, thus each installation is required to develop and implement an INRMP for the management and use of the lands on their installation. Army installations spent over $107.9 M dollars in FY10 implementing their INRMPs.
Significant natural resources include: threatened & endangered species or critical habitat; unique biological resources, wetlands, species at risk, or ecological issues require a level of planned management that can only be addressed by an INRMP; reimbursable forestry or agricultural out-leasing activities consisting of 100 acres or more; hunting and fishing are allowed for which special state hunting and fishing permits are issued by the installation; the installation conducts intensive, on-the-ground military missions that require conservation measures to minimize impacts (e.g. soil erosion control, prescribed fire) and sustain natural resources.
Army installations must review their INRMPs as to operation and effect with the installation’s internal coordinating parties (DPTMS; Staff Judge Advocate; Provost Marshall; Morale, Welfare, and Recreation; and so forth) annually. Additionally, Army installations must conduct external INRMP reviews as to operation and effect on a regular basis, but no less than every 5 years, with FWS, NOAA Fisheries Service, if applicable, and state fish and wildlife agencies. This review must be documented and signed by these parties; however, this review does not mean the INRMP must be revised when it is reviewed. The review is intended to determine whether existing INRMPs are being managed and implemented to meet Sikes Act requirements and are contributing to the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations.
- What does the Army have planned?
Each year, installations enter data regarding their INRMP, in the Army Environmental Database - Environmental Quality (AEDB-EQ). This data will transtion to the Headquarters Army Environmental Sytem (HQAES). This data helps the Army plan how to best comply with its obligations under SAIA and perpetuate its role as an active and effective steward of public land while carrying out its military mission. Additionally, the data provides Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) with the necessary information to complete the Defense Environmental Program Annual Report to Congress (DEPARC).
- Why is this important?
Military lands are comprised of over 30 million acres, represent diverse habitat types and contain a wealth of plant and animal life. These diverse habitat types preserve ecologically important native habitats such as old-growth forests, tall-grass prairies, and vernal pool wetlands. In many cases, these lands are havens for rare and unique plant and animal species.
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