Encroaching development and population growth in surrounding communities has had a growing effect on training and readiness at military installations around the country. In an effort to address the encroachment issues that many of our Nation's military installations are encountering, United States Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) led a bipartisan group of Senators in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urging the Administration to adequately fund the Range and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) which allows the military services to create buffers around bases through cooperative partnerships with local communities and through the purchase of conservation easements.
"Protecting our military bases from the adverse impacts of encroaching development is vital to ensuring that members of our military can receive the best training available," said Senator Salazar. "This is an issue that not only resonates in Colorado but has potential to have a long term impact at military installations across America. We must make the right investments in REPI, which has been used successfully in Colorado, and allows DOD and local communities to work together to create protective buffers around military bases. It is a win-win for the military, for local communities, and for those that own the surrounding land."
The letter asks the Administration to submit a request for at least $75 million for REPI for Fiscal Year 2009 and eventually increase that amount to $100 million by 2015. A recent report by the RAND Corporation found that the REPI program is seriously under-funded and that the cost of effective action will only increase over time as developmental pressures intensify.
In 2002 Congress gave the Secretary of Defense the authority to work with government and private partners to establish buffer zones to protect training and testing areas and created the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative. REPI is an effective tool to bring local governments and private partners together with the Department of Defense to establish buffer zones, often through the purchase of conservation easements at military installations throughout the country.
To see the letter Senators Salazar (D-CO), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Cornyn (R-TX), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kit Bond (R-MO), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and Patty Murray (D-WA) sent to Secretary Gates click here.