Military Training:

Implementation Strategy Needed to Increase Interagency Management for Endangered Species Affecting Training Ranges

GAO-03-976: Published: Sep 29, 2003. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 2003.

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Military lands provide habitat for more than 300 species that must be protected under the Endangered Species Act and many other species that may become endangered. In some cases, military installations provide some of the finest remaining habitat for these species. However, Department of Defense (DOD) officials stated that protection of endangered species may result in land-use restrictions that reduce the military's flexibility to use land for training. GAO was asked to examine the (1) extent to which DOD and other nearby federal land managers in the region are managing cooperatively for endangered species affecting military training ranges and (2) factors that can limit cooperative management for endangered species on military training ranges.

DOD and other federal land managers have taken some steps to implement interagency cooperative efforts to manage endangered species on a regional basis, but the extent to which they are using this approach for military training ranges is limited. Federal land managers recognize that cooperative management of endangered species has several benefits, such as sharing land-use restrictions and resources and providing better protection for species in some cases. The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture have issued policies, and DOD has issued directives to promote cooperative management of natural resources. They have also outlined specific actions to be taken--such as identifying geographic regions for species management and forming working groups. However, follow-through on these actions has been limited, without many of the prescribed actions being implemented. A few cooperative management efforts have been taken but were generally in response to a crisis--such as a species' population declining. The Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture have identified a number of factors that can limit cooperative management for endangered species on military training ranges. When a species is found on training ranges but is not found on other federal land or is not protected under the Endangered Species Act, neighboring land managers do not always consider management of the species a high priority. Limited interaction among agencies and limited resources to employ cooperative programs also inhibit cooperative management. Lack of training and expertise has limited federal land managers' ability to identify such opportunities. Moreover, federal agencies cannot easily share information--such as best practices and land management plans--because there is no centralized source of such information. Given that federal agencies have made little progress in implementing the various agreements for cooperative management, an interagency reporting requirement would provide a basis to hold agencies accountable for sharing endangered species management on training ranges.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On the basis of a particular concern, Congress has required reports on efforts to manage endangered species affecting military training ranges. For example, the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act directed the Secretary of Defense to establish a task force--comprised of representatives from the military, state and federal wildlife agencies, and wildlife and environmental interest groups--to explore ways to resolve conflicts between military training and protection of endangered species at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona. In addition, the act required the Secretary of Interior to prepare, in consultation with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Defense and with others, a report on the water use management and conservation measures at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and Sierra Vista subwatershed.

    Matter: To hold DOD and other federal land managers accountable for implementing regional interagency cooperative efforts for managing endangered species affecting military training ranges, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture to jointly report each year on their efforts to manage cooperatively for endangered species affecting military training ranges and share the burden of land use restrictions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To address our recommendation, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture developed an interagency action plan for endangered species management affecting DOD lands. Among other items, this action plan also includes an interagency strategy to identify opportunities for cooperative management, funding, science and technology, and goals and criteria to measure success. Designated representatives from each of the departments approved the plan in November and December of 2005.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly develop and implement an interagency strategy that includes a systematic methodology to identify opportunities for cooperative management efforts, funding sources, science and technology sources, and goals and criteria to measure success.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To address our recommendation, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture developed an interagency action plan for endangered species management affecting DOD lands. Among other items, this action plan also includes an interagency strategy to identify opportunities for cooperative management, funding, science and technology, and goals and criteria to measure success. Designated representatives from each of the departments approved the plan in November and December of 2005.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly develop and implement an interagency strategy that includes a systematic methodology to identify opportunities for cooperative management efforts, funding sources, science and technology sources, and goals and criteria to measure success.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To address our recommendation, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture developed an interagency action plan for endangered species management affecting DOD lands. Among other items, this action plan also includes an interagency strategy to identify opportunities for cooperative management, funding, science and technology, and goals and criteria to measure success. Designated representatives from each of the departments approved the plan in November and December of 2005.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly develop and implement an interagency strategy that includes a systematic methodology to identify opportunities for cooperative management efforts, funding sources, science and technology sources, and goals and criteria to measure success.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To address our report recommendations, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture established a joint working group and developed an interagency action plan for endangered species management affecting DOD lands. Among other items, this action plan also includes an interagency strategy to identify opportunities for cooperative management, training, funding, science and technology, and goals and criteria to measure success. Also, DOD developed its web based Defense Environmental Network & Information eXchange (DENIX), which contains a detailed calendar that provides users information on upcoming events such as training courses, seminars, and conferences on environmental stewardship including endangered species management across DOD, Federal government, private sector, and international sites. DENIX also contains links to the Interior Department's list of natural resource management training courses and to the Agriculture Department's training programs. In addition, the USGS has created "The National Biological Information Infrastructure" on the web, which allows land managers to easily share information within and across agencies and organizations. The data repository provides information about threatened and endangered species research and monitoring efforts, as well as training conferences for land managers, researchers, and others.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly develop a comprehensive training program for federal land managers, to include senior executives, regional, and on-site staff to identify and implement opportunities for interagency cooperation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To address our report recommendations, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture established a joint working group and developed an interagency action plan for endangered species management affecting DOD lands. Among other items, this action plan also includes an interagency strategy to identify opportunities for cooperative management, training, funding, science and technology, and goals and criteria to measure success. Also, DOD developed its web based Defense Environmental Network & Information eXchange (DENIX), which contains a detailed calendar that provides users information on upcoming events such as training courses, seminars, and conferences on environmental stewardship including endangered species management across DOD, Federal government, private sector, and international sites. DENIX also contains links to the Interior Department's list of natural resource management training courses and to the Agriculture Department's training programs. In addition, the USGS has created "The National Biological Information Infrastructure" on the web, which allows land managers to easily share information within and across agencies and organizations. The data repository provides information about threatened and endangered species research and monitoring efforts, as well as training conferences for land managers, researchers, and others.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly develop a comprehensive training program for federal land managers, to include senior executives, regional, and on-site staff to identify and implement opportunities for interagency cooperation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To address our report recommendations, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture established a joint working group and developed an interagency action plan for endangered species management affecting DOD lands. Among other items, this action plan also includes an interagency strategy to identify opportunities for cooperative management, training, funding, science and technology, and goals and criteria to measure success. Also, DOD developed its web based Defense Environmental Network & Information eXchange (DENIX), which contains a detailed calendar that provides users information on upcoming events such as training courses, seminars, and conferences on environmental stewardship including endangered species management across DOD, Federal government, private sector, and international sites. DENIX also contains links to the Interior Department's list of natural resource management training courses and to the Agriculture Department's training programs. In addition, the USGS has created "The National Biological Information Infrastructure" on the web, which allows land managers to easily share information within and across agencies and organizations. The data repository provides information about threatened and endangered species research and monitoring efforts, as well as training conferences for land managers, researchers, and others.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly develop a comprehensive training program for federal land managers, to include senior executives, regional, and on-site staff to identify and implement opportunities for interagency cooperation.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, the departments established a joint working group and created the "Threatened and Endangered Species Document and Data Repository," which allows federal land managers to easily share information within and across agencies and organizations. The data repository provides information for DOD-relevant threatened and endangered species research and monitoring efforts, as well as other research information, to researchers, land managers, policy makers, and others. The data repository also has cross references to other related databases to reduce redundancy. The department is currently creating a link to the repository from the department's centralized environmental website, DENIX, so that people will be able access the repository if they visit DENIX. The repository can be found at http://dodtes.nbii.gov/portal/server.pt.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly create a centralized or easily accessible source of information on cooperative management efforts that includes elements such as lessons learned, best practices, and agency contacts for federal land managers.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, the departments established a joint working group and created the "Threatened and Endangered Species Document and Data Repository," which allows federal land managers to easily share information within and across agencies and organizations. The data repository provides information for DOD-relevant threatened and endangered species research and monitoring efforts, as well as other research information, to researchers, land managers, policy makers, and others. The data repository also has cross references to other related databases to reduce redundancy. The department is currently creating a link to the repository from the department's centralized environmental website, DENIX, so that people will be able access the repository if they visit DENIX. The repository can be found at http://dodtes.nbii.gov/portal/server.pt.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly create a centralized or easily accessible source of information on cooperative management efforts that includes elements such as lessons learned, best practices, and agency contacts for federal land managers.

    Agency Affected: Congress

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, the departments established a joint working group and created the "Threatened and Endangered Species Document and Data Repository," which allows federal land managers to easily share information within and across agencies and organizations. The data repository provides information for DOD-relevant threatened and endangered species research and monitoring efforts, as well as other research information, to researchers, land managers, policy makers, and others. The data repository also has cross references to other related databases to reduce redundancy. The department is currently creating a link to the repository from the department's centralized environmental website, DENIX, so that people will be able access the repository if they visit DENIX. The repository can be found at http://dodtes.nbii.gov/portal/server.pt.

    Recommendation: To encourage cooperative management for endangered species affecting military training ranges, the Secretaries of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture should jointly create a centralized or easily accessible source of information on cooperative management efforts that includes elements such as lessons learned, best practices, and agency contacts for federal land managers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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