Arnold AFB falls within Tennessee’s southeastern Highland Rim physiographic province. The vicinity around the Base is noted for its Barrens, which feature heavy clay soil and wetland vegetation. Its rich diversity of species includes some 77 rare species, including the Gray Bat, a federally listed endangered species.
Managing sensitive, diverse ecosystems presents unique challenges. In 1995, the Base initiated a partnership called the Conservation Core Team in response to a US Department of Defense (DOD) ecosystem-based management policy set the year before. Members of the Team include scientists and natural resource experts from academia, non-proﬁ t organizations, and state and federal agencies.
Examples of Key PartnersThe Nature Conservancy, The University of the South, Arnold AFB, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Geological Survey, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Army National Guard, Tennessee Natural Areas Program, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, University of Tennessee.
Results and AccomplishmentsAmong the project’s many outcomes, the most notable may be the recovery of the threatened Eggert’s sunﬂ ower. The plant is now ﬂ ourishing, experiencing a 33 percent increase in population since 1995. As a result, the FWS delisted the species from threatened status. Genetic research that established criteria for functioning sunﬂ ower populations, and successful habitat restoration, are two of the factors responsible for its delisting. Crucial to the positive outcome was a Cooperative Management Agreement between Arnold AFB, other Core Team partners, and the FWS that made the project possible.
The Base has implemented a variety of management activities, including prescribed ﬁ re, forest thinning, managing invasive plants, restoring natural hydrology, and controlling unauthorized human activities. Examples include:
- Used remote sensing for surveys and inventories, enhancing ﬁeld work and saving 30 to 40 percent of the cost of traditional approaches.
- Located and identiﬁed bat sounds using modern technology to determine whether endangered species existed on the property, without having to stop military training exercises.
- Assessing and monitoring conditions to determine the status of ecological communities and trends.
- Restored 2,000 acres of Barrens habitat.
- Managed 1,894 acres of Karst wetlands including restoration of natural hydrology affecting 200 acres of wetlands.
- Participated in regional initiatives to increase Gray Bat populations.