Belvoir’s 2018 Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan was updated to continue to protect five, on-post conservation areas designated as Special Natural Areas between 1979 and 2016. The plan ensures conservation does not inhibit the installation’s mission-essential training and support. These five areas make up a contiguous corridor for wildlife that connects the installation to off-post regional/state park lands and National Wildlife Refuge habitats.
Greg Fleming, Belvoir natural resources specialist, said, with careful management of the installation’s natural areas, he has seen a growth in apex predators.
“The numbers of bald eagles and osprey is just amazing, how much that’s changed. I’ve seen it go from one eagle nest to seven on Fort Belvoir. The osprey have used every nesting platform set up for them, and are even starting to nest in the trees,” he said.
Fleming said careful habitat management has also benefited training lands, here.
He said 8 acres of pine-forest training area was thinned. “There were no logs on the ground; trees were choking each other out. When we were done, there were logs on the ground and new growth,” Fleming said. “The training coordinator loved that, because the land-navigation folks now had to climb over dead trees, and crawl through piles and logs; making it more challenging for the students. It was more realistic training.
Another area had different ages of trees with small grass components. “We cut all trees down to 12 feet, like an early forest, which cleared out an old helipad area for re-use. We also found out they were doing high-capacity signal training for a 30-foot antenna. Before, they could see each other, and afterward, they’d put up an antenna at the helipad and couldn’t see the other team,” he said.
“We’ve worked really well with our planning office, over the years, and help put them in the right direction, by not putting structures in special habitat and showing them how they can preserve streams. We try to help Belvoir promote building it in a way that disturbs the environment the least,” Fleming said.
“The Army Environmental Command outlined and liked what we are doing with our events,” he said, adding it was all possible because of the active participation of so many installation partners, including Office of the Chief of Army Reserve;
Defense Logistics Agency; Fort Belvoir Community Hospital; Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services; Dominion Energy; American Water; and the National Guard, who have all helped in outreach and environmental education.
Belvoir Environmental Division is available on Facebook at FortBelvoirEnvironmental.