Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina will receive more than $9 million in federal funding to protect areas around military bases, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Tuesday.
Eastern North Carolina is one of just six areas in the U.S. designated as "Sentinel Landscapes" under a 4-year-old program operated by the departments of Defense, Agriculture and Interior that tries to preserving natural or open land around military bases that is considered critical to the mission of those bases.
A little over $5 million of the federal grant will be used to protect areas around Camp Lejeune. Some land will be bought outright, and other parcels will be covered by conservation easements to prevent future development.
Troxler said the grant will protect farmland, forests and open space, as well as endangered species that live in those areas, and will help ensure the state's military bases remain viable for years to come.
"We all know that there's been encroachment around our military bases. This means that they can't train like they want to or as much as they want to," Troxler said. "When you marry forestry, agriculture and the military together, and we could use agriculture and forestry to protect the military, that's as good as it gets."
The remaining $4 million will be used by the Air Force to protect its training corridors in Dare County, which are critical to the future of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro.
The federal grant will be matched by money from the military, the USDA and the state.