Joint Base Lewis-McChord with the Center for Natural Lands Management and Partners was recently awarded $3.5 million by the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program (REPI). The funds will go towards efforts to preserve, restore, and manage critical prairie habitat in the South Puget Sound region, which will help preserve the environment while providing regulatory flexibility for on-base training.
The award is being leveraged almost 2½:1 by a partnership that includes Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Center for Natural Lands Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Thurston County, the state of Washington, and private landowners.
“This award shows we have the ability to balance critical prairie habitat conservation efforts with the needs of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It’s great news for JBLM, private landowners, conservationists, and all of Thurston County. We should look towards this award and the partnership that is leveraging it as a model of future prairie habitat conservation efforts in the South Puget Sound,” said Congressman Heck, who represents the district that contains Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The JBLM REPI project will help the conservation community, Thurston County, and agricultural/ranching partners develop and demonstrate a suite of components needed for recovery of prairie species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and provides security for future conservation actions. This one-year grant will bring an additional $3.5 million dollars to South Sound for land acquisition, stewardship endowments, and complementary actions to benefit prairie habitats and the rare prairie species proposed for listing. In addition to DoD, the project has benefitted from great support from local partners including Thurston County, FWS, NRCS, and regional Congressional staff.
The Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program allows the Military Services to enter into cost-sharing partnerships with state and local governments and private conservation organizations to preserve compatible land uses and conserve natural landscapes in support of military readiness. The REPI program has protected 264,000 acres of buffer land at 66 locations in 24 states across the country.