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Balancing resources, the environment and military readiness with community growth and development

By in Press Enterprise on October 29, 2017

By Cheryl Brown

As housing and other urban pressures continue to impact San Bernardino and Riverside counties, we must look at how to manage our precious resources. Water and how we manage it is always of paramount concern in our hot desert region, in addition to how we accommodate local wildlife.

Before your eyes glass over regarding this very important subject, think about what we are doing to conserve and preserve our environment. As an urban planner for over 20 years, daughter, granddaughter, niece and sister of military men, and member of the State’s Veterans Committee, I became fascinated with a new report by the nonprofit Sonoran Institute that will affect our military readiness, natural resources and ability to live and work wherever we want.

Sonoran’s core mission is to connect communities with natural resources that sustain them and work at the nexus of commerce, community and conservation to help build communities people want to live in while preserving the values which brought them there — a place where people and wildlife live in harmony; and where clean water, air and energy are assured.

I was fascinated with the new report subtitled, “Military Mission and Environmental Health are Intertwined,” authored by Ian Dowdy, which evaluates encroachment pressures on the military’s mission in the California desert. This report follows Dowdy’s work on the Arizona desert which has been studied for about 15 years.

After three years of intense research using the ESRI Arc GIS platform, Dowdy highlights how the military uses 40 million acres, or 70 percent, of San Bernardino County’s land mass, and prioritizes Special Use Air Space and Military Training Routes.

Most of the land surrounding military bases is federal. However, the military and conservation groups are concerned the pressure placed on communities to provide housing around bases is creating a situation that may hamper training and […]    

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