VA Joins Sentinel Landscape Partnership Program
Thursday, July 20, 2023
Virginia is the 12th state to join the nationwide Sentinel Landscape Partnership, which has goals of strengthening military readiness while advancing climate-change programs.
Some 3 million acres, comprising 10 military installations, are included in the state's designated sentinel landscapes. Norfolk, home to one of the largest naval bases in the nation, is experiencing record high levels of sea rise.
Edwin Martinez Martinez, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service Agency, noted the program will have sweeping impacts for the state.
"This initiative will have a positive impact on our state climate goals," Martinez Martinez asserted. "And will open up opportunities for education, outreach, building staffing capacity, training and, most importantly, implementation of conservation practices in these critical areas."
The next stage includes education and outreach, which Martinez Martinez said will go across numerous state conservation groups. The program is one part of the Defense Department's Climate Adaptation Plan. Other elements include supply chain initiatives and climate-informed decision-making.
While the program is still relatively new, officials are working on projects for it. The program will allocate several million dollars to projects within this program.
Zachary Greenberg, U.S. conservation project officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, described what it could look like.
"In Virginia, that can look like projects that preserve or restore salt marsh, which buffer our coast and our military installations against storms," Greenberg explained. "It can also look like increased canopy cover in cities to address excessive heat."
Other potential projects include keeping Virginia forests intact, since they provide flood-control protection and can improve water quality.
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