According to a June 2002 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on military training, 80% of communities surrounding military installations are growing faster than the national average. This rapid pace of urban growth into rural areas around military installations and ranges presents two sets of problems. First, as residential and commercial development ncreases in areas near military installations, people may experience more aircraft over-flights, dust, and noise from military activities. Second, important military training exercises may be compromised due to incompatible land use adjacent to or near installations and ranges.
Farming, ranching, and forestry can be very compatible with military land use. Preserving working lands on the perimeter of military installations can help sustain military training and testing by buffering them from residential development and other incompatible uses. Open space provided by these buffers allows continued access to training and testing ranges, night vision exercises, artillery practice, supply drops, and parachute jumps – crucial training to ensure our troops train as they fight. Additionally, open space maintains habitat for threatened and endangered species.
DoD is working with key stakeholders to encourage more compatible land use around military installations and ranges. Collaborative partnerships with residential and commercial growth interests, conservation organizations, and state and local governments facilitate preservation of open space, agricultural lands, and endangered and threatened species habitats.