Cooperatove Conservation Project

Arnold Air Force Base Conservation Core Team

Using Partnerships and New Technology to Monitor and Manage Sensitive Ecosystems

Location: Southeastern Region: Tennessee

Project Summary: A Conservation Core Team initiated by Arnold AFB is helping restore and protect listed species and important habitat on Tennessee’s southeastern Highland Rim.
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Restoration burn in wetlands at Goose Pond National Natural Landmark, Arnold Air Force Base. (Photo by Kevin Fitch)
Resource Challenge
Arnold AFB falls within Tennessee’s southeastern Highland Rim  physiographic province. The vicinity around the Base is noted for its  Barrens, which feature heavy clay soil and wetland vegetation. Its rich  diversity of species includes some 77 rare species, including the Gray  Bat, a federally listed endangered species.
Managing sensitive, diverse ecosystems presents unique challenges.  In 1995, the Base initiated a partnership called the Conservation  Core Team in response to a US Department of Defense (DOD)  ecosystem-based management policy set the year before. Members  of the Team include scientists and natural resource experts from  academia, non-profi t organizations, and state and federal agencies.  
Examples of Key Partners
The Nature Conservancy, The University of the South, Arnold AFB, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Geological Survey,  Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Army National Guard,  Tennessee Natural Areas Program, Tennessee Wildlife Resources  Agency, University of Tennessee.  
Results and Accomplishments
Among the project’s many outcomes, the most notable may be the recovery of the threatened Eggert’s sunfl ower. The plant is now  fl ourishing, experiencing a 33 percent increase in population since  1995. As a result, the FWS delisted the species from threatened  status. Genetic research that established criteria for functioning sunfl ower populations, and successful habitat restoration, are two of the factors responsible for its delisting. Crucial to the positive  outcome was a Cooperative Management Agreement between  Arnold AFB, other Core Team partners, and the FWS that made the project possible.
The Base has implemented a variety of management activities, including prescribed fi re, forest thinning, managing invasive plants, restoring natural hydrology, and controlling unauthorized human activities. Examples include:
  • Used remote sensing for surveys and inventories, enhancing field work and saving 30 to 40 percent of the cost of traditional approaches.
  • Located and identified bat sounds using modern technology to determine whether endangered species existed on the property, without having to stop military training exercises.  
  • Assessing and monitoring conditions to determine the status of ecological communities and trends.
  • Restored 2,000 acres of Barrens habitat.
  • Managed 1,894 acres of Karst wetlands including restoration of natural hydrology affecting 200 acres of wetlands. 
  • Participated in regional initiatives to increase Gray Bat populations.  

The Air Force’s first successful restoration of a threatened species: Eggert’s sunflower.

Project Contact
Sally Rollins Palmer
Science Program Coordinator
The Nature Conservancy

Richard McWhite
Natural Resources Manager
Arnold Air Force Base


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