Army Compatible Use Buffer: Hopkins Farm

Army Awards Project Funding to the Harford Land Trust

In 2010, the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program supported the HLT acquisition of an easement on the Harry Hopkins family farm adjacent to Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Churchville Test Area, protecting in perpetuity 164 acres on Deer Creek.  This year, a new joint project between HLT and ACUB was approved, which will provide funding to acquire land near several existing projects and complete contiguous forested areas under protection.  Our focus will be around the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, Forest Greens Lake Preserve, Otter Creek, and Monk’s Creek.  As we work on this program over the upcoming year, we’d like to share with you some information about ACUB and how it will aid us.

ACUB is the Army’s program to protect land around all Army installations.  The Army receives many direct benefits from protected land.  Buffer regions around bases provide habitats for threated and endangered species that may exist on the base.  Light pollution on the base that would jeopardize certain testing environments is reduced.  Limits to incompatible development near bases ease the burdens on the local community, including dust and noise pollution.  Insufficient buffers can cause training restrictions, costly workarounds, and compromised training realism for Army operations.  Accordingly, the United States Code authorizes the Department of Defense to form agreements with local and state governments and non-government organizations to limit encroachments and other constrains on military training, testing, and operations by establishing buffer areas around installations.

The Hopkins Farm, which is now under protection through the ACUB Program

acub-hopkins

It is difficult for Army negotiators to work directly in private-landowner markets, so ACUB accomplishes its mission through partnerships with organizations with mutual objectives of land conservation like the HLT.  Through these partnerships, the Army can contribute funds to purchase of land or easement, and we supply our skill in evaluating and negotiating land contracts, as well as monitoring easements.

We estimate that the available funding for this program will allow the HLT to preserve five to seven projects totaling over 120 acres in the aforementioned areas.  We will hold all easements, and any land acquired will belong to the trust.  The ACUB program will provide most of the funding, including appraisals, surveys, environmental studies, and most settlement costs, but only limited administrative costs and staff time.  HLT is also required to provide a 10% match through other sources for all land acquisition costs.

We are very excited about this opportunity and anticipate many important projects coming to fruition in 2015 from this partnership.  We’ll keep you posted as the situation evolves.