Military Land Evaluation (13-FD-b)
Military lands contain a vast array of natural resources. The United States Department of Defense has a unique national security interest in the projects that are developed on or adjacent to military land. Ecosystems on military land must be protected and enhanced while preserving the effectiveness of the military mission. The Sikes Act, 16 USC 670a(a)-(f), authorizes the Secretary of Defense to carry out a program to provide for the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations. Under the Sikes Act, the military establishes Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs) where appropriate for natural resources management. Developers should consider the impacts projects may have on military operations in the vicinity.
Memorandum of Understanding between DOI and DOD
Despite restrictions on non-compatible land uses, the United States Department of Defense is supportive of renewable energy projects. Recently, the DOD entered into a MOU with the United States Department of Interior (DOI) documenting support for renewable energy projects. The MOU addresses the potential for renewable development on public lands withdrawn for defense related purposes and other lands that are near or adjacent to military installations.
Military Land Evaluation Process
13-FD-b.1 – Consult Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP)
The Sikes Act makes the Secretary of each military department responsible for determining whether an INRMP is appropriate for each installation. The Secretary prepares the INRMP in cooperation with the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the head of each appropriate state fish and wildlife agency. The INRMP is prepared and implemented to reflect the mutual agreement of the parties concerning conservation, protection, and management of fish and wildlife resources ensuring, to the extent feasible, that sufficient number of professionally trained natural resources management personnel and natural resources law enforcement personnel are available and assigned responsibility to carry out all of Title 16.
For the purposes of the Sikes Act, the terms “military installation” and “military land” are synonymous.
"Military installation" is defined under Section 100 of the Sikes Act as:
- (A) any land or interest in land owned by the United States and administered by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department, except land under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Secretary of the Army having responsibility for civil works,
- (B) includes all public lands withdrawn from all forms of appropriation under public land laws and reserved for use by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department, and
- (C) does not include any land described in subparagraph (A) or (B) that is subject to an approved recommendation for closure under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990.
The Sikes Act requires the DOD to develop and implement INRMPs for military installations across the United States. The Act only governs activities on military land. This includes leasehold interests for renewable energy projects. If a proposed project would not be compatible with the INRMP in place, development will be prohibited unless the military revises the INRMP so as to allow development of the proposed project. Revisions to INRMPs require the DOD to complete the NEPA process.
13FD-b.2 – Consult DOD Joint Land Use Study
Projects near or adjacent to military land may face restrictions due to their proximity to military operations. However, projects not located on military land are not covered under the Sikes Act, which provides for the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations. Instead, the military is engaged in joint land use planning in support of compatible relationships with local communities. See DoD Instruction 3030.3 and 10 USC 2684a - Agreements to Limit Encroachments and Other Constraints on Military Training, Testing and Operations. If the project is near or adjacent to military land consult the DOD Joint Land Use Study. DoD Instruction 3030.3.
13-FD-b.3 – Consult Local Land Use Plan
Developers should consult all relevant local land use plans. Local land use plans may contain restrictions for development of land near or adjacent to military land.
13-FD-b.4 – Consult Private Land Use Agreements
The developer should also seek to determine if any private land use agreements exist between DOD and owners of private land near or adjacent to military land. Private land use agreements between the owner and the DOD may contain development restrictions.
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