The buffering project, known as the Army Compatible Use Buffer program, was created by the Department of Defense in 2005 to address encroachment and fund conservation efforts Armywide. ACUB builds upon previous DoD conservation efforts and the defense authorization bill of 2003, which created a “buffering authority.” Military installations partner with third parties, such as state and local land trusts to implement buffering programs.

At Fort Benning, ACUB is administered in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The conservancy works to purchase ACUB easements or properties from willing landowners. Fort Benning’s priority is to channel land development away from critical portions of the installation boundary, protect endangered species habitats off post and create opportunities for on post training expansion.

Since implementing the program three years ago, the conservancy has created more than 7,000 acres of buffer, with an additional 250 acres coming from Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust’s conservation easements.

Slay said the conservancy is focusing on creating buffers along the “hotter” areas of northeastern Fort Benning near Hastings and Cactus ranges. Areas of eastern Muscogee, southern Talbot, Marion and Russell counties are also priorities.

Base Realignment and Construction has intensified the conservancy’s efforts to increase buffer zones, he said.

As a result, the post received an additional $1.7 million in ACUB funding this week, to reach a total of $2.7 million for the year, said George Steuber, deputy garrison commander.

Fort Benning is a priority in the Southeast Installation Management Command region. The post is tackling the largest construction project in the region in gaining the Maneuver Center and will ultimately be responsible for training more than half of the Army’s Soldiers. As construction continues and the post prepares for more Soldiers, encroachment, both internal and external, could negatively affect its mission, which makes ACUB vital, Steuber said.

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