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By James B Reed and Jennifer Schultz

Last year, federal agencies announced an initiative to reduce the adverse effects of incompatible development around military bases.

The aim of the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership is to sustain military readiness, preserve agricultural land and protect wildlife habitat by focusing on areas where these priorities overlap. Federal partners, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior, are working with states and the private sector to recognize landowners for practices that both benefit their operations and are compatible with the military’s test and training mission.

The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership gives the federal government and states an opportunity to link national defense, conservation and working lands in a transaction to benefit all parties. Preserving farms, ranches, forestlands and open space that surround military bases helps the people and wildlife that depend on them and also buffers bases from the kind of development that puts military activities at risk.

Current sentinel landscapes projects are underway in Washington, Florida and North Carolina. Other sites will be announced in the coming months. A coordinating committee overseeing the delivery of federal programs in support of Sentinel Landscapes has been meeting since February 2014.

NCSL will address this topic at its Legislative Summit in Minneapolis at a 10:45 a.m. session on Tuesday, Aug. 19. During this session of the NCSL Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force participants will learn about these innovative land use strategies and cost-sharing partnerships including how they can protect agricultural working lands and critical habitat, while also sustaining military readiness.

Leaders of state agencies in Minnesota, the National Guard and the DoD Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program will discuss developments at Camp Ripley in central Minnesota relating to sentinel landscapes.

The task force agenda also includes various presentations on how states are assisting veterans facing homelessness, mental illness, and those needing assistance obtaining health care.

James Reed is group director of NCSL's Environment, Energy and Transportation program. Jennifer Schultz is a research analyst in NCSL's Environment, Energy and Transportation program and staffs the NCSL Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs. Email Jim. Email Jennifer.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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