Joint Base Lewis-McChord is getting a $3.5 million grant from the Defense Department to preserve sensitive prairie land and offset some of the environmental effects of military training, the Pentagon announced last week.
The money will be used to purchase land outside the base, mostly in Thurston County, said Patrick Dunn of the Center for Natural Lands Management. Some land could be purchased in Pierce County as well, he said.
His group is one of several agencies partnering with the Defense Department on the prairie-preservation plan. Some of them are providing matching funds for the Defense Department grant, enabling them to set aside $8 million worth of land to protect threatened Mazama pocket gophers, Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies and streak-horned larks.
The intent is to preserve land outside Lewis-McChord so the military faces less pressure to shut down open training areas where some of the threatened species live, Dunn said.
“This award shows we have the ability to balance critical prairie habitat conservation efforts with the needs of Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” said Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia.
The other partners are the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Widllife Service, Thurston County, Washington state and private landowners.
Lewis-McChord won the grant through the Defense Department’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, an office that works to balance military training needs with land preservation.Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646