Eglin Air Force Base officials have forged partnerships with local governments and nonprofit groups to protect valuable natural resource areas, enhance wildlife corridors and expand opportunities for biodiversity, while at the same time preserving its mission, helping the installation to be named DOD Installation of the Year by ADC.
As the home to 19 federal and 95 state listed, rare or local endemic species, Eglin places a high priority on conserving its natural resources. The base occupies much of the Florida panhandle, controls 120,000 square miles of airspace over the Florida Gulf and provides a unique atmosphere for threatened and endangered species.
Eglin has successfully partnered with the state of Florida and the Nature Conservancy to place conservation easements on thousands of acres of land in the Northwest Florida Greenway. Under DOD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative, Eglin has received $2.3 million to acquire conservation easements on 2,200 acres. In fiscal year 2011, the installation was scheduled to receive an additional $1.5 million.
To provide a wildlife corridor connecting the installation to Apalachicola National Forest, government and conservation agencies formed the Northwest Florida Greenway Partnership.
Another coalition of local agencies, the Northwest Florida Military Sustainability Partnership, is dedicated to ensuring the viability of existing and future potential missions at Eglin. That partnership oversees the implementation of the June 2009 joint land use study for Eglin, manages the region’s implementation of the July 2010 tri-county growth management plan and coordinates its members’ plans for responding to the infrastructure and service needs of the military.
The installation’s partnership with the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority allowed the government to build a connector road through portions of Eglin and divert traffic from the business district.
“This award is truly reflective of the tremendous support and partnership Team Eglin enjoys with all of our communities. From down listing endangered species, to leading the way in energy innovation, Team Eglin’s men and women can add this to their list of accomplishments,” said Col. Sal Nodjomian, commander of the 96th Air Base Wing.
Winners will be recognized during the Defense Community Awards lunch at the ADC 2011 Annual Conference in Norfolk on Tuesday, July 19.