NEWS | Sept. 27, 2021

MIARNG practices environmental stewardship, conservation

By Staff Sgt. Tristan D. Viglianco Michigan National Guard Public Affairs

Serving and protecting Michigan’s citizens is a known priority of the Michigan Army National Guard. They are charged with preserving the abundant natural resources throughout the state. Providing this responsible stewardship of the environment is accomplished through the hard work of the MIARNG environmental management team across the state.
 
“We are here to advise and support the Michigan National Guard so they can carry out their missions sustainably,” said Jonathan Edgerly, MIARNG environmental manager. “We work with federal, state, and local regulators to ensure we comply with natural, environmental and cultural guidelines.”
 
The MIARNG environmental team is responsible for managing the natural resources for approximately 160,000 acres of forested, wetland, and urban area. It includes the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center (CGJMTC) in Grayling, the Fort Custer Training Center (FCTC) in Augusta, and more than 40 armories across the state.
 
Both training centers use a variety of tools to manage the natural resources that help promote the MIARNG’s robust land management program. 
 
“A large part of our natural resources plan is based on the Sikes Act,” said Michele Richards, FCTC natural resource manager. “We focus on forestry, wetland management, endangered species management, controlled burns, and ecosystem restoration in and around our installations.”
 
The Sikes Act, passed in 1960, mandates military installations develop and implement Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans designed to conserve and protect natural resources controlled by the Department of Defense.
 
As a part of a larger bird research initiative, the CGJMTC and the FCTC have recently placed an emphasis on monitoring the patterns of migratory birds. One of the tools they implemented to help with this was the Motus Wildlife Tracking System.
 
“As a part of the larger project, we had a Motus tower installed on Camp Grayling on Aug. 20,” said Matt Kleitch, CGJMTC natural resource specialist. “It will tie into some initiatives that we are working on at Camp Grayling, across the region, and at the national and international level with migratory species.”
 
According to Kleitch, the tower allows for tracking of migratory species across their routes through radio bands on the birds.
 
The new Motus tower is the third for the MIARNG. The others are located at the FCTC and an armory in Taylor, respectively. The towers allow for agencies to identify migratory corridors, address issues negatively affecting the birds, and improve habitat proactively.
 
“The bird research informs our environmental management plans,” said Richards. “We make sure we are investing in and growing the best plants and habitats that will support as many birds as possible, especially the at-risk species.”
 
Recent environmental program success for the Michigan National Guard was the delisting of the Kirtland’s warbler from the endangered species list in 2019.
 
Kleitch said the Kirtland’s warbler nests exclusively in jack pine trees, which are found on Camp Grayling, making their conservation efforts critical to protecting the species.
 
“The Kirtland’s warbler was recently delisted primarily due to a multi partner effort,” said Kleitch. “The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service are some of the larger partners. This year we worked with those agencies again to accomplish a population census on the species.”
 
The MIARNG environmental programs led to FCTC winning the 2020 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation in the small installation category, under 10,000 acres.