Science & Nature

Military and Environmentalists Align to Protect Key Coastal Salt Marsh

Military and Environmentalists Align to Protect Key Coastal Salt Marsh
April 9 letter urging SERPPAS to develop a conservation plan for the salt marsh—“a first line of defense” for coastal communities and military installations.

Development and climate-driven sea-level rise “threaten to drown this vital habitat, impacting coastal communities, businesses, military installations, and fish and wildlife alike,” the letter warned.

The Defense Department will be heavily involved in the conservation work as part of its effort to protect the numerous military installations near the Southeast coast—including Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia and the Marine Corps training facility at Parris Island, S.C.—from potential damage caused by climate change.

SERPPAS’s co-chairs are Richard Kidd, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for environment and energy resilience, and Chuck Sykes of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

In a statement, Kidd said the agreement to protect salt marsh along the Southeast coast will “improve the resilience of our coastal installations as we adapt to rising sea levels and other associated risks of climate change.”

Seven of the principals in charge of SERPPAS are military officials. Other principals work for state agencies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina or for federal agencies such as EPA, NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The military’s influence in conservation has been noted in Florida by environmental groups that helped protect land around the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center near Jacksonville to provide both wildlife habitat and a buffer for military testing and training.

“We have seen firsthand how the military involvement in the conservation of lands can help protect the military mission while advancing shared protection goals,” Jim McCarthy, president of the North Florida Land Trust, said in a statement last week.

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2021. E&E News provides essential news for energy and environment professionals.

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