Fort Stewart, other military installations part of $720M Dept. of Agriculture projects

Published: Feb. 12, 2016 at 7:48 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 13, 2016 at 6:48 PM EDT
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FORT STEWART (WTOC) - Fort Stewart and several other military installations will benefit from a national project that teams the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and several private conservation groups.

The groups are directing $720 million toward 84 different projects nationwide to improve water quality, combat drought, and improve soil and wildlife conditions.

Fort Stewart maintains the largest military installation east of the Mississippi. It's a balance between giving troops a place to train, and preserving the ecosystem that hosts them.

The projects are part of the second round of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, created in the 2014 Farm Bill. The USDA will team with several conservation groups to buy acres outside the training areas to keep them as woodlands and not subdivisions. That will help Army units keep doing what they're doing.

"It's important for us to maintain the installation where we can train the way we fight, but not be constrained with a worry of smoke or noise or dust going off the installation," said Tim Beaty, Ft. Stewart Fish & Wildlife.

"At the same time, it's also going to protect habitat. It's going to make sure the Defense Department doesn't have to deal with endangered species challenges," said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture.

"If you don't maintain those species, they become endangered, and that creates an incredible responsibility for landowners," said Vilsack.

Both sides say the private funding helps make tax dollars go further.

"Everybody likes to be able to go back to their headquarters and say they did $2 million of work with only $1 million of their own money," Beaty said.

They hope this helps maintain this ecosystem for generations to come.

If you want to learn more about the projects being developed in Georgia or South Carolina, take a look at the PDF's below.

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