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Sentinel Landscapes

The collaborative Sentinel Landscapes Partnership supports efforts to promote working lands, protect wildlife habitat and ensure military readiness at military bases across the country.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) designated two new Sentinel Landscapes on April 8, 2015: Fort Huachuca in Arizona and Naval Air Station Patuxent River-Atlantic Test Ranges in Maryland and Delaware.

The latest Sentinel Landscapes join South Puget Sound in Washington State, the first designated Sentinel Landscape in the nation in 2013.

Sentinel Landscape in Arizona

Fort Huachuca is home to a rich agricultural heritage where working ranches, grasslands and forests are key to watershed protection in this drought-prone region

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service are joining DOI’s  Fish and Wildlife Service to lead efforts to help private landowners retain 5,000 acres of productive and viable working farm and ranch lands that help to sustain Arizona’s food and fiber production and  improve its environmental quality.

NRCS will commit up to $3 million over three years to the Ft. Huachuca Sentinel Landscapes through financial and technical assistance from Farm Bill programs including the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

The Sentinel Landscape Partnership in Arizona will play an active role in efforts to protect grassland and forest habitat, the species that rely on those habitats, and the water resources needed by Fort Huachuca, wildlife and that region.

NRCS, Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife will partner with the Arizona Land and Water Trust, the Arizona Department of Forestry and more than 40 other local, state and federal partners to discourage incompatible land development, protect and restore native grasslands and working ranches, and ensure the availability of scarce groundwater resources for the entire region.

Sentinel Landscape in Maryland and Delaware

Naval Air Station Patuxent River-Atlantic Test Ranges is the U.S. Navy’s premier aircraft research, development, test, and evaluation location. The Atlantic Test Ranges cover 2,700 square miles of restricted air space.

 Fish and Wildlife Service, NRCS, the Chesapeake Conservancy and many state and conservation partners are spearheading efforts to conserve a wildlife corridor of at least 1,385 acres of forests, wetlands and farmland along the Nanticoke River and the broader Chesapeake Bay under the Atlantic Test Ranges.

Keeping the land in agriculture benefits environmental quality, historic preservation and wildlife habitat. NRCS in Delaware and Maryland will commit up to $1.5 million for financial and technical assistance in the NAS Patuxent River Sentinel Landscape through various Farm Bill programs, including ACEP. NRCS’s efforts in the NAS Patuxent River Sentinel Landscape will help landowners keep their productive lands in agriculture and protect wetlands. NRCS’s goal is to protect up to 750 acres of productive farmlands within the NAS Patuxent River Sentinel Landscape.

Conservation Tools

NRCS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners will work jointly to identify natural resource needs in the Sentinel Landscapes and reach out to eligible landowners and offer voluntary technical and financial assistance to address these resource concerns.

Conservation tools will include:

Conservation Easements: NRCS acquires conservation easements under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP has two component—the agricultural land easement and the wetlands reserve easement.

ACEP's agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, but they also support environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. ACEP now focuses on the protection of "grasslands of special environmental significance’ or high-quality grasslands that are under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development and other non-grazing uses.

Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities.