U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recognizes Vandenberg Air Force Base as 2015 Military Conservation Partner Award Winner

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recognizes Vandenberg Air Force Base as 2015 Military Conservation Partner Award Winner

Installation Exemplifies Landscape-Level Land Stewardship by Supporting Species Recovery and Functional Ecosystems along Central California Coast

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized Vandenberg Air Force Base as this year’s recipient of the prestigious Military Conservation Partner Award during a ceremony held today at the 30th Space Wing in central California.

“We value our many partnerships with the military and appreciate the role military lands play in conserving fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats across the United States,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By supporting threatened and endangered species recovery, actively leading and contributing to habitat restoration activities, and building the scientific foundation for future conservation efforts, Vandenberg Air Force Base is leading the way for proactive conservation efforts on military lands.”

The Military Conservation Partner Award is a national award presented once a year to a military installation whose efforts represent significant conservation accomplishments achieved in partnership with the Service and other conservation agencies.

Vandenberg Air Force Base is a space launch and landing facility along the central California coast. In addition to meeting its military mission, the 99,579-acre installation provides habitat for 18 federally threatened or endangered species from the beach layia to the California red-legged frog. The area includes one of the largest breeding sites for the Pacific coast population of federally threatened western snowy plover. The area encompasses habitat types from coastal beaches, dunes and chaparral to wetlands and freshwater marshes and includes 42 miles of coastline.

Species recovery and habitat conservation efforts are guided by the base’s Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan and conducted in coordination with the Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In 2014, Air Force staff and partners successfully restored 50 acres of coastal beach and dune habitat to benefit at-risk coastal species including the western snowy plover and California least tern, resulting in a significant increase in nesting success compared to previous years. This coastal restoration effort will expand to around 300 acres through 2019.

Air Force biologists also implemented surveys to document El Segundo blue butterflies across more than 1,200 acres on-base and extended their monitoring efforts to include 198 acres of adjacent state-managed lands. These monitoring activities provide instrumental data needed to improve overall recovery efforts for this federally endangered species. In partnership with the California Conservation Corps, Air Force biologists and staff planted more than 4,500 native plants across 16 acres to provide additional habitat for these and other pollinators. The base also monitors monarch butterfly sites and contributes to multi-partner efforts to identify and enhance monarch habitat across important migratory routes.

The base also restored 300 acres of habitat for the federally endangered Lompoc yerba santa and an additional 100 acres for the federally endangered beach layia, and contributed to a Santa Ynez River watershed study to help map floodplains and conduct a hydrological analysis to better manage water resources.

In addition to on-the-ground restoration activities, research and conservation planning, the Air Force also engages surrounding communities, including high school students, in hands-on outdoor education and volunteer opportunities, including beach clean-ups, summer school field trips, fishing days and docent programs.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. Visit us at

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Ashley Spratt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 805-644-1766 ext. 369,
Larry Hill, Vandenberg Air Force Base, 805-606-6139,

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