Southern Indiana will become home to a sentinel landscape — one of only 10 in the country. The federal Sentinel Landscapes Partnership aims to be a win-win for the military and the environment.
It helps private landowners sustainably manage the land around military bases while also keeping certain types of development from encroaching on the bases and preventing the military from doing its job.
Mark Dobbs is the community planning liaison officer at Naval Support Activity Crane.
“Some of the operations that we do, do create louder noises, right — from a training operations standpoint, for that. So definitely, you know, making sure that that's not an incompatible use with residential development, for those operations is critical," he said.
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At the same time, private landowners get priority for federal programs that help them manage their land sustainably. That could mean protecting a stand of trees where an endangered Indiana bat lives or making healthier soil that can withstand flooding and drought.
Christian Freitag is the president of the Conservation Law Center — which will help manage the new designation. He said a lot of conservation programs are piecemeal — protecting a few hundred acres here or there — not so with sentinel landscapes.
“It's large scale, it's holistic. It's a big tent approach. And we're very excited about it," Freitag said.
The 3.5 million acres of sentinel landscape will be located near NSA Crane, Camp Atterbury, Indiana Air Range Complex and Lake Glendora Test Facility.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.