"To support DoD and Federal research programs with multi-functional test ranges."
History and General Information
Blossom Point Research Facility (BPRF) is a 1,600-acre Army testing range located at the southern end of Charles County, Maryland, approximately nine miles southwest of La Plata and 50 miles south of Washington, D.C. BPRF is under the leadership of the U.S. Army Garrison, Adelphi Laboratory Center in Adelphi, Maryland.
The National Bureau of Standards (NBS), Ordnance Development Division first used the area now known as BPRF in 19421 for testing small, experimental proximity fuzes and fuze components. The Department of the Army acquired the facility from NBS Ordnance Development Division in 1953. In 1956, the Department of the Navy was granted permission to use 23 acres at the site for Project Vanguard, a communications tracking station for satellites. The mission expanded again in 1962 and the site became one of the Army's five corporate laboratories; the Diamond Ordnance Fuze Laboratory was renamed the Harry Diamond Laboratories Test Area.
The Department of the Army extended its lease to the Department of the Navy to include an additional 265 acres in 1986. Under this extension, 41.38 acres were to be used by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the rest as a buffer. The site was renamed Blossom Point Research Facility by the Army in 2003.2BPRF was realigned from under the Army Research Laboratory (a tenant headquarters at the Adelphi Laboratory Center (ALC)) to the ALC host unit, the U.S. Army Garrison ALC in 2007. This realignment makes the U.S. Army Garrison ALC responsible for oversight of BPRF land, buildings, roads, grounds, and other infrastructure.3
The operations at Blossom Point continue to evolve to best suit the nation's national security needs. Today, the BPRF provides the Army with multi-purpose test ranges with numerous applications, including small arms testing, storage facilities, certified handlers and drivers, and certified vehicles. The BPRF's multifunctional test ranges support an average 125 programs a year and customers, such as NRL, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Naval Surface Warfare Center, and U.S. Special Operations Command.4 The testing capabilities and facilities at BPRF are difficult to find elsewhere in the United States.5
In support of the ALC mission, BPRF also:
- Operates and maintains an ordnance and electronics research facility as a site for the U.S. Army Garrison, Adelphi Laboratory Center;
- On a reimbursable basis, supports customer-supported research and testing for explosives, pyrotechnic, electronic telemetry, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and laser facility operations for the Army and other Department of Defense, Federal, and Private agencies;
- Maintains and repairs the roads, grounds, equipment, structures, and power grid on the site;
- Acts as a land steward and maintains the property for wildlife, and protected and endangered species on the site; and
- Maintains and operates a fleet of heavy equipment to support mission activities.6
One of BPRF's major tenants, the Naval Research Laboratory, leases a 41-acre satellite control network at the facility, called the
Blossom Point Tracking Facility (BPTF). BPTF was established in 1956 and is the nation's first satellite command and control facility.7 Strategic placement at this location provides horizon to horizon look and angles and an interference free, low noise environment. The site is used to provide simultaneous tracking and data acquisition, health and status monitoring, and command and control for NRL and Navy satellites. There is a 2,000 ft radius buffer zone around the Blossom Point Tracking Facility to prevent interference with sensitive satellite antenna radio receivers.8
Watch a video overview of the Blossom Point Tracking Facility at ALC.
Compatible Use Organizations, Programs, and Resources
For more information on how BPRF works with surrounding communities to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships, you can explore compatible use organizations, programs, and resources.
Community Resources to Promote Compatibility
Military installations and their host communities have strong and mutually beneficial relationships. They rely on and support one another in terms of jobs, housing, schools, recreation, infrastructure, and social services. Communication, coordination, and partnerships that support compatible community development can create mutually beneficial results to ensure support for warfighters and their families, military operations, and continued community growth and economic development.
A Compatible Use Study, formerly referred to as a Joint Land Use Study, represents a community-driven, cooperative, and strategic planning process to protect and preserve military readiness and defense capabilities while supporting continued community growth and economic development. The study is based upon technical information the military service provides to describe current military operations. The compatibility analysis results in a series of recommended actions included in an implementation strategy to guide compatible community development in support of continued military operations.
Charles County, with financial support from the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (formerly known as Office of Economic Adjustment), Department of Defense, completed the
Blossom Point Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), in April 2012. The JLUS represents a collaborative effort among BPRF, Charles County, local elected officials, planning commissioners, local military base command staff, community business leaders, including the
Charles County Chamber of Commerce, homebuilders, real estate interests, landowners, and neighboring residents. The JLUS includes an analysis of compatibility factors that may adversely impact the installation and military operations and subsequent recommendations to address the identified concerns.
The specific objectives of the Blossom Point JLUS included Charles County working with the U.S. Department of the Army and Naval Research Lab to:
- Provide an environment in which, to the extent possible, land uses in proximity to Blossom Point remain compatible with the operations of the Blossom Point Research Facility;
- Facilitate the ability of Blossom Point Research Facility to achieve its mission, maintain military readiness, and support national defense objectives; and
- Promote health, safety, and welfare of military and civilian personnel living and working near Blossom Point Research Facility. 9
The most significant compatibility issues identified in the Blossom Point JLUS include frequency interference, noise, vibration, vertical obstructions, and trespassing. To address these issues, the JLUS includes a series of recommended actions for Charles County, the U.S. Army, and other agencies and stakeholders to implement. The
six primary recommendations include changes to the Charles County Comprehensive Plan that incorporate BPRF, review of special exception applications to include BPRF involvement, when appropriate, updates and expansions to real estate disclosures so that potential buyers are made aware of potential issues related to BPRF, acquisition of target properties to prevent incompatible development, review of the zoning ordinance, and periodic reviews of the JLUS.
Completed implementation actions of JLUS recommendations include adding the
Federally owned lands - military installations section to the comprehensive plan, and including figures to illustrate the
Military Awareness Area and other areas of potential concern for BPRF. Charles County staff forward any land use development applications within the Military Awareness Area to BPRF staff for review and comment. However, given that BPRF is bounded on the west, east, and south by water and to the north by the Cedar Point Wildlife Management Area, Charles County receives few development applications. A fence has been installed along the north property boundary to address potential hunter trespass on BPRF property.
Counties and municipalities develop comprehensive plans to provide a long-term vision for their future growth and development.
Comprehensive plans typically include maps showing proposed future land uses and anticipated transportation and community
facilities, and emphasize sustainability, as well as protection of environmental features, and historical and cultural
While comprehensive plans in Maryland do not require a military element, many plans for jurisdictions around BPRF include
references to the installation and consider potential influences on the community. BPRF is referenced in the following
Charles County Comprehensive Plan (2016)
- The Blossom Point Research Facility Joint Land Use Study is referenced as one of the specialized plans that Charles
County coordinates with and consults in support of implementing the comprehensive planning program.
- The Land Use chapter references BPRF as a part of the
federally owned lands component of the land use plan map.
- Charles County has completed a JLUS for both of the county's military installations - BPRF and NSF Indian Head. The
comprehensive plan identifies
common recommendations of the studies, including establishing a military influence area, developing a process
for efficient communication and coordination between county and facility staff, assuring real estate disclosures are
up to date, and considering properties near the facilities as priority for acquisition and/or protection to ensure
Policy 3.12 of the land use chapter comprehensive plan directs the county to "protect military installations
from incompatible land uses and consider implementation of recommendations contained in approved Joint Land Use Studies"
as a short-term implementation (one to three years) policy.
on-going land use action item number 7, the county is encouraged in the comprehensive plan to "develop specific
measures, ordinances, or other actions to ensure compatibility between land uses in Charles County and the associated
Economic Resources to Promote Compatibility
A jurisdiction's economic development office and support organizations offer a variety of resources that help the community seek out economic growth opportunities and strengthen existing businesses. These resources are particularly valuable for defense communities that are continually looking for ways to attract new business, retain a skilled workforce, and provide resources and opportunities for military families relocating to the area.
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization
(MPO) for the region, playing an important role as the forum for regional transportation planning. With participation
from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia departments of transportation and the region's local governments,
the TPB prepares intermediate-range and long-range plans and programs that permit federal transportation funds to flow
to the metropolitan Washington region. The TPB also works to advance safety, coordinate land use, and inform the work
of decision makers. The
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments houses and staffs the TPB.
The TPB adopts a four-year financial
Transportation Improvement Program, which describes the planned schedule for distributing federal, state, and local
funds for state and local transportation projects within the region.