The U.S. Department of Defense today announced that it is accepting pre-proposals for the 2014 Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program Challenge. Information about the challenge and the pre-proposal form are now available on the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Community’s (the Endowment) web page. Interested parties may contact via email Peter@usendowment.org. The deadline for submissions is 8 p.m. EST, Friday, December 6, 2013. Up to $5 million is available for the 2014 REPI Challenge.
“The 2014 REPI Challenge highlights the concept of Sentinel Landscapes,” notes Peter Stangel, Senior Vice President at the Endowment. “Sentinel Landscapes capitalize on the linkage between national defense, conservation, and working lands, including ranching, agriculture, and forestry. The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership includes the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of the Interior.”
In particular, the 2014 REPI Challenge seeks to harness the creativity of the private sector to merge the mutual interests of the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and Interior, to access and leverage unconventional sources of funding, attract additional philanthropic sources, and take advantage of market-based approaches to secure the most land at the least cost.
Last year’s 2013 REPI Challenge supported a collaboration that included the White House Rural Council, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture to kick-off the Sentinel Landscape Partnership with a pilot project in the South Puget Sound region of Washington State. Home to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, an important troop training facility, this region has some of the last remaining native prairie habitat in the state.
As a result of the 2013 REPI Challenge, the Department of Defense (DOD), USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and partner organizations are investing more than $12.6 million to restore and protect more than 2,600 acres of important prairie habitat on both public and private lands, allowing training activities at the Joint Base to move forward with more flexibility. Left unaddressed, decreasing habitat in and around Joint Base Lewis-McChord could otherwise restrict testing and training on military installations, areas to which many species flee when displaced by development.
The creation of long-term or permanent easements will protect nearby agricultural and private lands from development and help preserve farms and rural culture. Wildlife habitat can be created and managed to benefit species as well as agricultural production and military readiness.
Building on the successes of USDA’s Working Lands for Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide regulatory predictability under the Endangered Species Act to private landowners who implement conservation practices in the pilot landscape, and is pursuing the possibility of granting ecosystem credits to DOD from the federal conservation investments.