May 4, 2016 (CAMP RIPLEY, Minnesota) — The Army Compatible Use Buffer is a Minnesota National Guard-driven program supported and administered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.
“The Army Compatible Use Buffer, or ACUB, program is intended to protect the mission of Camp Ripley by creating a permanent buffer around the 53,000-acre training facility,” said Camp Ripley Environmental Supervisor Mr. Jay Brezinka.
To accomplish this goal, the ACUB program utilizes the opportunities available to minimize encroachment of incompatible land uses, such as residential development, and enhance conservation land management.
The program was established in 2004 and is currently being funded primarily with Department of Defense and state funding. The ACUB program has completed 159 land transactions covering over 17,000 acres of land which surround Camp Ripley. Currently there over 210 landowners interested in participating in the program, representing 26,000 acres with 95 percent of them interested in conservation easements.
The Minnesota National Guard is beginning work with other federal and state agencies to designate certain lands around Camp Ripley for what is termed a Sentinel Landscape, according to the Department of Agriculture and Interior.
“Sentinel Landscapes can be defined as preserving the working and rural character of our private lands, which is important for both national defense and conservation priorities,” added Brezinka.
In Minnesota, working lands for agriculture and forestry and other natural lands provide many important public benefits: source and surface water protection, recreational opportunities for hunting and fishing, habitats for species of greatest conservation need, shoreline protection of the Mississippi River, open space, commodity production, and maintaining the rural character of Minnesota.
“Additionally the Sentinel Landscapes partnership, will allow us to work together in overlapping priority areas near Camp Ripley,” continued Brezinka. “This legislation will simply formalize a process that we have used for years to enhance the effect of the ACUB Program,” he added.
The overall goal is to help landowners make improvements to the land that benefit their operations, enhance wildlife habitat, and enable the State and Federal missions of Camp Ripley to continue.
“The intent is that this will help build a template for other states to follow for formalizing a broader approach able to use the resources of many federal and state agencies to accomplish mutually beneficial outcomes in the area of conservation and land use sustainability,” concluded Brezinka.
by Staff Sgt. Anthony Housey
Camp Ripley Public Affairs