Resource Conservation

It is important for states, defense communities, and the military to work together to protect air, water, land, and other resources that are shared by and sustain installations and their surrounding communities. This includes protecting and managing threatened and endangered species.

The below examples describe how installations and communities can leverage funding opportunities to further conservation efforts through land preservation, legislation, and collaboration.

Relevant Compatibility Factors​: Cultural Resources, Scarce Natural Resources, Threatened and Endangered Species

Best Practices in Maryland

Best Practices in Other States

Highlight 1: Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape


Federal agencies, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations in the middle Chesapeake collaborated through the Sentinel Landscape Partnership and worked with landowners near installations and ranges to advance sustainable land management practices that also supported military missions. Sentinel Landscapes are defined by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior as “areas in which natural and working lands are well suited to protect defense facilities from land use that is incompatible with the military's mission.” The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainability (OASD(S)) and the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program Office are the lead partnering offices for the Department of Defense in the Sentinel Landscape program. Program goals are to improve compatibility, sustainment, and resilience at military installations, while increasing the application of sustainable management to farms, ranches, and forests, and other properties under conservatorship.

The Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape was formed in 2015 by diverse stakeholders in support of military missions, preservation of natural resources, and promotion of economic vitality. Its primary goal was to protect critical lands that contain wildlife habitats, support agricultural production, and further the Navy's mission. Navy testing and training operations in the area consist of critical testing and research flights within the vast, regional, special use airspace; mainly originating from NAS Patuxent River. The Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape sought to address compatibility issues by advocating for areas within the protected airspace to remain undeveloped or be working lands, rather than for residential or commercial development. The Sentinel Landscape program protects mixed hardwood and pine forests on the Delmarva Peninsula, Hemlock Preserve, the Nanticoke River Watershed, and other critical conservation areas.

Learn more about the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape in this fact sheet, the Sentinel Landscapes website, or in the Federal Agencies tab. Interested landowners can explore opportunities and resources to partner with the Sentinel Landscapes Program in the Landowner Resources section. Use the REPI Interactive Map to explore the area around the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape.

Highlight 2: NAS Patuxent River Shoreline Protection and Wetlands Restoration


Shoreline erosion, exacerbated by military operations at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, has and continues to threaten installation facilities, impact marine habitats, and allow sediment to flow into the Chesapeake Bay. To address these issues, the Navy sought partners who were committed to restoring the Chesapeake Bay, as well as meeting Navy facility and infrastructure needs. Under a Sikes Act Cooperative Agreement, the Southern Maryland Coastal and Aquatic Resource Team was formed with partners from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Board, St. Mary's Soil Conservation District, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Alliance for Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Biological Lab, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Each group brought its unique expertise in shoreline design, habitat restoration, and other aspects of Chesapeake Bay ecology to the table, thereby reducing costs, while advancing partner goals.

Examples of partnership activities and successes include training volunteers by the National Aquarium and Aquarium Conservation Team to stabilize over 3,500 feet of shoreline, create 1.5 acres of wetlands, plant 5,000 submerged aquatic plants, install two oyster reefs, and plant 30,500 units of marsh grass. The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay obtained additional funding to complete submerged vegetation planting and develop artificial oyster reefs using more than 100,000 oyster spat, provided by the Oyster Recovery Partnership. By utilizing the Sikes Cooperative Agreement, in conjunction with an informal process that allowed for open communication and sharing common goals, the Navy estimates it saved 22 percent in project costs.1

1 Cooperative Conservation America. Shoreline Stabilization in Chesapeake Bay Area. ​

Highlight 3: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management/NAS Oceana at Dam Neck Shoreline Protection Project


The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has authority to convey, on a noncompetitive basis, rights to resources for shore, beach or wetland restoration projects and construction projects funded in whole or part, or authorized, by the federal government. For the Dam Neck Shore Protection Project at NAS Oceana, BOEM authorized leasing sand from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and partnered with the Navy to use up to 700,000 cubic yards of sand to protect shoreline infrastructure. The approach enhanced coastal resilience, protected the mission capability of Dam Neck, restored shorebird and sea turtle nesting habitat and improved the recreational beach for the local communities.

Dredging took place at the Sandbridge Shoal, located about three miles offshore, with the dredge material being used to stabilize and restore the Dam Neck Annex oceanfront and dune system. Dredging was paid for by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Norfolk District; however, funds to purchase sand were not needed as BOEM provided it for free. The project area encompassed approximately two miles of shoreline where a sand dune spans almost one mile and is 20 feet tall by 50 feet wide. The project complied with all applicable environmental, historic preservation and coastal zone management laws and avoided or protected environmental and historic resources.


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