Military Projects Spotlight
Faculty and graduate students in the College of Natural Resources work with military services and installations in the state and nationally on diverse research projects. These projects provide unique areas of research and contribute to sustaining the military's mission and protecting national defense.
Read more about our projects below:
- Regional Readiness Cooperative
- Sentinel Landscapes for Military Readiness
- Restoring Red-cockaded Woodpeckers
- Support for Agriculture Development and Farmland Protection
- Conservation Incentive Programs
- Wood to Energy Regional Biomass Assessment
- Working Lands GIS Data
- Rural Development and Working Lands Protection
- Green, Bio-Based Material to Neutralize Chemical Warfare Agents
- Green Remediation
- Producing Energy on Environmental Remediation Sites
- Wildlife Studies at Fort Bragg
Regional Readiness Cooperative
The Regional Readiness Cooperative (RRC) is a partnership between North Carolina State University and Texas A&M University, delivering research, teaching, and extension in support of conservation, working lands, and national defense at the landscape scale. Incompatible land uses that threaten the military mission also threaten rural working forest and agriculture lands, the associated working land economies, and the environment. The Cooperative works collaboratively with federal, state, and local agencies and with non-governmental organizations to provide the applied science and policy analysis, education, and outreach which is necessary to cross geographic and jurisdictional boundaries to develop mutually beneficial solutions.
Current work includes coordination and outreach support for implementing The Comprehensive Strategy for Prescribed Fire to Restore Longleaf Pine in the Southeast United States. The Strategy was developed through the work of the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability’s (SERPPAS) Prescribed Fire Work Group. Implementation of prescribed fire with longleaf pine yields multiple benefits such as reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, thereby protecting air quality, and improving wildlife habitat for game, at-risk, and endangered species, which benefit numerous agencies and organizations including, but not limited to, the Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and state forestry and wildlife agencies.
Sentinel Landscapes for Military Readiness
Agriculture and Defense are the two largest sectors of North Carolina’s economy, with an annual impact of $70 billion and $26 billion, respectively, and tens of thousands of jobs. North Carolina ranks 8th nationally in Agriculture (total commodity cash receipts) and 3rd in its contributions to the national defense. Furthermore, lands devoted to these activities contain vast acreages of the state’s natural resources, and 90% of NC farms and forest lands are privately-owned. Linking Agriculture and Defense can provide a foundation for sustainable development in eastern NC, strengthen the State’s economy, and maintain military readiness.
This project is a collaborative effort to link working lands, conservation and national defense in eastern North Carolina. Development around military bases and inadequate or uncoordinated conservation efforts are threatening working farms and forests, natural resource sustainability, and military readiness.
Working together, researchers, conservation, agriculture, and forestry interests and the Marine Corps are advancing “Green Readiness” in North Carolina. The two primary focuses of the project are: 1) using market-based approaches to incentivize compatible land uses on private lands under the eastern NC military training route, and 2) bolstering local economic activity through the Food and Fuel for the Forces initiative, and assessment of biomass-for-energy capabilities.
Partners include Marine Corps Installations East, NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, NC Farm Bureau, NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, NC Cooperative Extension, NC Forestry Association, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts throughout eastern NC.
Sentinel Lands Flyer (pdf)>>
- RELATED DOCUMENTS
NC Governor's Land Compatibility Report - May 11 2012
EO 124 - NC Protecting Military Installations
Restoring Red-cockaded Woodpeckers - Assessing Recovery Opportunities on Private Lands In Eastern North Carolina
Ensuring flexible and sustainable military testing and training operations in eastern North Carolina depends on the ability to recover populations of the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW). All conservation tools available should be applied to achieve this objective, yet RCW recovery opportunities on private lands have not been fully assessed or developed.
Currently, RCW recovery efforts are concentrated on public lands, so private lands hold the greatest potential for RCW recovery in the future. Researchers are addressing this need by assessing RCW recovery opportunities, performing benefit-cost analysis for RCW recovery on private lands, and modeling bio-economic viability of RCW recovery initiatives on private lands over time.
The research team is identifying and mapping existing RCW habitat and recruitment stands (potential RCW habitat in 10 to 40 years if managed appropriately) on private lands in eastern North Carolina. The team is using this baseline data to estimate the economic incentives required to offset changes in timber management regimes that are necessary to develop suitable habitat for recovery efforts on private lands.
The research team will synthesize ecological and economic data with a spreadsheet or simulation model that estimates the costs of RCW recovery on private lands under different management scenarios.
Tree Growth, Crop Yield, and Estimated Returns
University researchers and graduate students are conducting the economic analysis for this project in cooperation with the North Carolina Forest Service. They are analyzing returns from longleaf pine compared to other forestry and agricultural investments. This data will provide estimates of the conservation payments required to convert land from short rotation loblolly pine timber production or crop/pasture production on marginal agricultural land, to conservation uses of longleaf pine or long rotation loblolly pine.
Support for Agriculture Development and Farmland Protection
Researchers, graduate students and extension specialists at NC State are assisting the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation and (FSWC) the NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in their agriculture development and farmland preservation efforts associated with the Sentinel Landscapes initiative. This includes developing landowner outreach materials; assisting in development of a process to invoice the FSWC for conservation payments; contributing to program monitoring; exploring web, cell phone, and touch pad promotional and contracting approaches for “tech-savvy” and absentee landowners; and developing methods to reach underserved, minority, or new landowners. We are also helping identify priority lands and landowners for targeted outreach, and developing an online landowner outreach database.
Assessing Private Landowner Interest in Conservation Incentive Programs
(PI: Nils Peterson)
Rapid population growth and sprawl in North Carolina (NC) threaten the state’s environmental health, rural working lands and associated economies, and the Department of Defense’s ability to maintain military readiness. Implementing payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs could help address these issues, but it is unclear what private landowners’ interests and preferences are for PES programs.
A graduate student and faculty team surveyed the North Carolina Farm Bureau (NCFB) county board members and private landowners in 18 counties in Eastern NC to: 1) compare interest in easements versus contracts; 2) gauge interest in a variety of contract-based PES programs (open space, endangered species habitat, energy crops, carbon sequestration, and military training); 3) assess respondent preferences for agreement durations, enrollment acreage, and managing organizations; and 4) determine socio-demographic predictors of interest in PES programs. Results indicate there is sufficient interest in PES programs for implementation in NC. In most cases, landowner interest surpasses anticipated funding availability for agreements, so implementing market-based programs could drive down costs and encourage longer contract durations.
The successful implementation of conservation incentive programs for private landowners would be a positive step toward conserving natural resources and ecosystem services, protecting rural working lands and their associated economies, and keeping human encroachment around our military bases at bay. More Information>>
Extension Forestry Support - Wood to Energy Regional Biomass Assessment
(Co-PI: Dennis Hazel / Co-PI: Robert Bardon)
NC State Extension Forestry is conducting a regional assessment of woody biomass for electric power generation at US Maine Corps installations near and including Camp Lejeune. For this assessment, researchers are evaluating availability, reliability, and pricing of biomass resources. Related websites: Extension Forestry Supply Analysis
Extension Forestry Biomass Site
Extension Forestry Support - Working Lands GIS Data
(Co-PI: Dennis Hazel / Co-PI: Robert Bardon)
NC State Extension Forestry is identifying characteristics of working forest and farmland to develop a GIS data layer. The data will be used with other information in a spatial analysis to determine landowners who may have an interest in conserving and enhancing their working lands and natural resources while supporting military training and national defense. The purpose of this analysis is to identify and prioritize working forest and farmland in the mission footprint of Marine Corps Installations East for targeted efforts to encourage landowners to retain their working lands as working lands.
Rural Development and Working Lands Protection
(PI: Kathi Beratan)
Dr. Beratan has been working with the Fort Bragg Regional Alliance (formerly the BRAC Regional Task Force) on rural development and working lands protection planning, with protection of compatible land uses around military bases as an important objective. Her work has focused on market approaches to farmland preservation, based on the idea that agricultural lands are less likely to be developed if farm operations can be made more profitable by increasing demand for farm products.
North Carolina’s military installations are among the largest institutions in the state, and could contribute to working lands preservation through strategic purchases of locally grown agricultural products for food and fuel. With funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation, Dr. Beratan completed a report in spring 2012 on the potential for expanding institutional markets for locally grown food in southeastern North Carolina. She has begun working with relevant organizations, including the Military Growth Task Force, to find ways to work through the military procurement system to implement these recommendations at the military installations.
Feasibility Study for the Use of Green,
Bio-Based Material to Neutralize Chemical Warfare Agents
Dr. Lucia and Dr. Argyropoulos, supported by the US Army Research Office, are investigating the use of biopolymers to decontaminate/absorb toxic chemical warfare agents such as sarin, mustard, VX, and related nerve agents used as chemical weapons.
The current thrust of their work is to provide a detailed chemical description of the reactivity of biomaterials such as cellulose, chitin, or their composites on phosphonate-based nerve agent mimics or analogues.
Green Remediation - Is It Too Good To Be True? Phyto Protects the Pasquotank from Pollution
(PI: Elizabeth Nichols)
Dr. Nichols worked with state and federal agencies, and the US Coast Guard to demonstrate that trees can be used to remove pollution from soil and ground water. She and her collaborators established a phytoremediation demonstration site at the US Coast Guard Training Facility in Elizabeth City, NC. Aircraft fuel for the Coast Guard base had been stored at the site from 1942 until 1991, and over time fuels had leaked into soil and ground water.
For the project, about 3,000 fast-growing trees were planted to prevent residual fuel waste from entering the Pasquotank River by ground water discharge. Results have been very encouraging; amounts of fuel in the ground have decreased much faster than anticipated. Recognizing the value of phytoremediation, the Coast Guard and has established two additional phytoremediation systems at different locations on base.
Green Remediation - Producing Energy on Environmental Remediation Sites
(PI: Elizabeth Nichols)
Dr. Nichols is interested in working the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune and the Army at Fort Bragg to assess the potential for bioenergy/biomass production or other renewable energy production on hazardous waste sites. The idea would be to reduce the energy footprint of the bases by offsetting current energy use with alternative landscape management that produces energy without interfering with current remedial technologies. Projects would benefit both the military and students in the NC State Masters of Environmental Assessment program who are looking for research projects for their degrees.
Wildlife Research at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Resource managers on the Fort Bragg Military Base in North Carolina are interested in 1) how increasing coyote populations are adapting to the area and what affect they have on game species; and 2) how military land managers’ shift to growing-season burns is affecting game species and species of conservation concern. Graduate students in the Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology program are working to answer these questions.
Understanding the emerging deer-coyote dynamic in the eastern United States
Coyotes are native to the western US, but are a relatively new predator in eastern ecosystems. Determining fawn survival and causes of mortality is critical to understanding how coyotes affect white-tailed deer populations in the eastern US. During 2011 and 2012, researchers captured fawns at Fort Bragg, fitting them with motion-sensitive, expandable radio collars, to determine white-tailed deer fawn survival and causes of mortality. Results from the study will inform management decisions related to deer and coyotes, particularly in the eastern United States. Managing wildlife populations on military lands is critical because many installations are open to the public for hunting and fishing. White-tailed deer are highly sought by hunters, so understanding deer-coyote dynamics is important to the management of both species.
Coyote habitat use and movement in relation to prey availability
Coyotes are a relatively new predator in the eastern United States, and few studies have empirically evaluated coyote habitat use and food availability over time and space. The objective of this study was to determine relationships between small mammal availability and coyote habitat use on Fort Bragg Military Installation, North Carolina. During 2011, researchers fitted 30 male and female coyotes with radio collars to track their movements. From this, researchers will be able to draw conclusions about relationships between coyote habitat use and spatial and temporal distribution of important food resources.
The effects of growing-season fire on deer movements and nutritional carrying capacity
Federally listed as endangered, the red-cockaded woodpecker is a focal species guiding many management decisions at Fort Bragg Military Installation in North Carolina. One management strategy used to improve habitat for the woodpecker is a broad-scale intense growing-season prescribed fire regime. Researchers are evaluating how this prescribed fire regime is affecting adult female white-tailed deer movements, diet selection and available nutrition. Thirty adult female deer have been fitted with radio collars, which track their locations on 2.5 hour intervals. Vegetation and diet related information also is being collected to evaluate effects of fire on nutritional carrying capacity and diet selection of lactating females in the summer.
Nesting ecology and seasonal movements of the wild turkey in the presence of
Wildlife management on military lands often focuses on threatened and endangered plants and animals, and raises concerns about potential negative effects on non-target species. Prescribed fire is a management tool used on military bases to maintain habitat for numerous wildlife species, including many species of conservation concern. However, growing-season burns coincide with the nesting activity of wild turkeys and may cause nest destruction and poult mortality. Using radio telemetry, researchers are determining the vegetation features associated with the nest placement of female wild turkeys, and calculating the survival of those nests. In 2011, the survival rate of nests reaching incubation was 43%. Although hens nested in a variety of cover types, almost two-thirds of the nests were located in shrub-dominated ecotones maintained by periodic fire.
The influence of growing-season fire on southeastern fox squirrel habitat selection
Fire-dependent longleaf pine forests provide important habitat for southeastern fox squirrels, a species of high conservation priority in the southeastern United States. Widespread timber harvest, urbanization, and fire suppression have reduced longleaf pine forests to less than 5% of their original range. Fort Bragg and adjacent areas compose the largest contiguous tract of longleaf pine ecosystem remaining in North Carolina. Today, resource managers use dormant and growing-season prescribed fire to restore and maintain longleaf pine ecosystems and associated wildlife habitat. However, little information exists on the impacts of these burns on southeastern fox squirrel habitat selection. Growing-season prescribed burns are of particular interest because of the negative impact they may have on hardwoods, a major food source for fox squirrels. Researchers are investigating relationships between growing-season prescribed fire and fox squirrel habitat selection on Fort Bragg Military Installation. In winter of 2011, researchers began capturing and radio-collaring fox squirrels, and tracking them to identify what habitat features make areas within a burned landscape more suitable for fox squirrels.