LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — The Barry M. Goldwater Range has been selected as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2015 Military Conservation Partner Award recipient.
The award, presented in a ceremony June 9, is a national award presented annually to a military installation whose efforts represent significant conservation accomplishments achieved in partnership with the service and other conservation agencies.
The Barry M. Goldwater Range encompasses 1.7 million acres of relatively unfragmented land of the Sonoran Desert and is home to roughly 300 to 400 native plant species and 320 wildlife species, including three federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act of 1974: Sonoran pronghorn antelope, lesser long-nosed bat, and Acuña cactus. The U.S. Air Force’s 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base and the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Yuma manages these and other resources of the BMGR under a combined integrated natural resources management plan.
“The Luke AFB and MCAS Yuma range management offices do a phenomenal job in working with the Fish and Wildlife Service and other partner agencies to manage the diverse natural resources of the Barry M. Goldwater Range,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th FW commander. “Our decisions and conservation efforts are made in a collaborative fashion to ensure a consistent application of policy and principle across the southern Arizona region as a whole.”
Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest regional director, presented the award to Pleus and Marine Corps Col. Ric Martinez, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma commanding officer.
“I’m always humbled when I visit our partner military organizations and see the dedication they bring not only to the protection of our country but also to the protection of natural resources,” Tuggle said. “It’s a privilege to partner with the armed forces to balance stewardship and natural resource conservation on military lands with the military mission. Military forces — our Airmen and Marines — in Arizona have made such a huge difference in ensuring that our precious wildlife resources will endure not just for us to enjoy, but for future generations of Americans to appreciate.”
The BMGR and the service have a long-standing cooperative conservation relationship that supports one of the largest single landowner segments (about 1.5 million acres) of Sonoran Desert in the United States. This eco-region has the highest diversity of native plants of any desert in the world and includes more than 2,500 pollinator species, more than 600 native fish and wildlife species, and more than two-thirds of all migratory bird species that occur in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
BMGR actively participates in five primary conservation partnerships to manage desert basins, sand dunes, aquatic pools (tinajas) and springs, canyons and mountain ranges, as well as listed and sensitive species that rely on these habitats. The five active partnerships include the Sonoran pronghorn recovery team; the flat-tailed horned lizard interagency coordinating committee and the management oversight group; the Barry M. Goldwater Executive Council and BMGR Intergovernmental Executive Committee currently chaired by Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, the Sonoran Desert Conservation Partnership Team, and the Sonoran Joint Venture.
Additionally, BMGR natural resources staff participates in Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative climate change and GIS working groups, the Arizona Bird Conservation Initiative, the Arizona Interagency Desert Tortoise Team, the Sonoran Joint Venture Technical Committee, the Department of Defense Partners In Flight Steering Committee, the Arizona Important Bird Area Science Committee, and the Desert Thrasher Working Group.