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The military’s historically destructive relationship with the environment and its several national security exemptions from compliance with federal environmental laws would appear to indicate that the military’s mission is inherently at odds with environmental protection. Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”) has recently demonstrated a significant interest in ensuring military readiness by reducing potential impediments to normal military operations on DoD installations. Often cumulatively referred to as “encroachment,” these outside pressures include land-use restrictions from federal environmental laws as well as more direct interference from nearby civilian populations, such as noise complaints and light pollution. By pursuing initiatives that reduce encroachment issues on military bases, the DoD has developed several adaptive solutions to its land management challenges—to wit: compatible-use buffering programs that create space between military lands and nearby civilian populations, cooperative partnerships with interested stakeholders outside military bases, and various Service-specific conservation policies. These efforts seek to produce the “win-win” outcome of responsibly managing natural resources on and surrounding DoD lands while simultaneously protecting national security through increased military training capabilities and decreased geopolitical instability (a consequence of climate change). This Note seeks to fill a gap in the literature by arguing that Congress and the public should encourage the military’s successful land management efforts by substantially increasing the employment of land buffering programs and collaborative partnerships near military bases, as authorized by the Sikes Act of 1960 and 10 U.S.C. § 2684(a). This Note further argues that other government agencies with land management responsibilities should apply the DoD’s lessons to develop policies that effectively balance mission requirements with environmental interests.


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6 Sep 2022
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  • Subject
    • Environmental Law

    • Land Use Law

    • Military, War, and Peace

    • National Security Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Law Review

  • Volume
    • 60

  • Issue
    • 3

  • Pagination
    • 1023

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022