Cooperatove Conservation Project

Army Compatible Use Buffer Project

Conservation Leases Ensure Compatible Land Uses for Permanent Protection

Location: South-Central/South-West Region: Colorado

Project Summary: Conservation easements on lands adjacent to Fort Carson are being created to buffer the Fort from development and to maintain open space and wildlife habitat.
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The partnership between TNC, Fort Carson, and private landowners provides for training while conserving natural resources. (Photo by Peter McBride/Aurora Photos)
Resource Challenge
Suburban sprawl has been edging steadily toward Fort Carson for the past twenty years. Residential development along the installation’s borders is putting pressure on prairie habitats that support several listed species, including the Mexican spotted owl, mountain plover, greenback cutthroat trout, and black-tailed prairie dog.
Fort Carson launched a Compatible Use Buffer Project to help protect sensitive habitat and resolve encroachment issues. In cooperation with state and federal agencies, universities, and non-government organizations, Fort Carson developed an encroachment mitigation plan that relies on acquiring conservation easements from willing landowners as a core strategy. Challenges to building a successful partnership program included: 1) meeting the needs of multiple agencies and private entities with sometimes divergent goals; 2) dealing with policies, procedures, and internal processes of three very different entities: the Department of the Army, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and private landowners; 3) funding the project; 4) acquiring funds for private landowners in a timely manner; and 5) succeeding with new and/or non-existent guidance while maintaining compliance.
Examples of Key Partners
Conservation easements on lands adjacent to Fort Carson are being negotiated to buffer the Fort from development and to maintain open space and wildlife habitat.
Results and Accomplishments
 • In 2003, Fort Carson, TNC, and the US Department of the Army negotiated short-term conservation leases with the owner of a privately-held ranch adjacent to 7 miles of Carson’s border, restricting development on approximately 30,000 acres. The leases were executed temporarily to allow enough time to complete in-perpetuity easements.

• In February 2005, the US Department of the Army funded the first easement acquisition phase, working toward an ultimate    target of more than 60,000 acres of conservation easements along Fort Carson’s southern and eastern boundaries. To date, this is the largest conservation easement the Department of the  Army has acquired to mitigate encroachment on a major military installation. The permanent buffers will ensure compatible uses such as agriculture, green space, and habitat conservation on adjacent lands. It also will provide a useful buffer to reduce the number of complaints about dust and noise that frequently arise from training exercises.

• Examples of the roles various partners played include biological surveys, real estate estimates, Threatened and  Endangered Species surveys, legal reviews, development and negotiation of the conservation lease and the easement, habitat development planning, and wildlife surveys.

• In March 2005, the FWS awarded its first Military Installation Conservation Partnership Award to Fort Carson, citing its outstanding on-the-ground management and conservation leadership.

The Project partners negotiated conservation leases to ensure compatible land uses adjacent to Fort Carson.

Project Contact
Mr. Matthew Moorehead
Program Manager
The Nature Conservancy



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