Counties and Military Installations 101: Leveraging the Farm Bill to Promote Compatible Land Use and Community Development
Across the country, communities near military installations are growing quickly, posing economic development and land use challenges both for the installations they support and the communities in which they are located. If not managed carefully, local development has the potential to inhibit the training and security objectives of our nation’s military, while training activities can simultaneously impact communities and residents’ safety and well-being.
Over 400 counties have military installations in or near their jurisdictions. Counties are responsible for the health, well-being and safety of their communities, and are tasked with maintaining roads and bridges, 911 and emergency services, disaster preparedness and recovery, environmental protection and water and wastewater management. America’s counties rely on strong intergovernmental partnerships to fulfill many of these responsibilities to our residents. Likewise, state and federal programs and regulations are often implemented at the local level by county leaders. As a result, coordination and collaboration among county, state and federal partners is crucial to providing Americans everywhere the best services possible.
Counties are also important partners in supporting the mission of nearby installations, and it is important that county and local U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) leaders collaborate to address the various development, land use and natural resource issues that can result from or impact community development and DOD training activities.
Fortunately, initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program exist to provide critical resources to county residents and the local landscapes surrounding military installations by enhancing military readiness, protecting local habitats, strengthening militarycommunity relations and creating partnerships among local stakeholders. Counties are key participants in REPI initiatives at the local level, operating on the frontlines of supporting the economic development of our local communities. While this may be one of the most visible ways counties partner with DOD to promote compatible land and strong community and economic development, it is not the only way; numerous other programs and resources can help meet these same goals for America’s counties and the military bases we support.
The 2018 farm bill, titled the Agriculture Improvement Act (P.L. 115-334), is one major tool that can help facilitate compatible land use near U.S. Department of Defense installations in support of DOD’s mission, preserving working lands and critical habitat while strengthening local communities. This document outlines programs included in the most recent farm bill reauthorization that counties can leverage to help promote compatible land use around military installations, while managing the impact that nearby training and testing activities (such as live fire training and weapon testing) have on local communities.
Additionally, this report highlights successful examples of existing partnerships between counties and local military installations that have leveraged farm bill funds to help support local land use objectives in military communities. While many counties partner with their local installations on compatible land use issues, a few in particular have been highlighted for their efforts to leverage farm bill resources alongside other partnerships to achieve similar outcomes as the REPI program.
Connecting Counties & Military Installations
The DoD REPI Program is a key tool for combating encroachment on incompatible development near military installations that can limit or restrict critical military training, testing, and operations.