Nancy Natoli Élan Award for Innovation in Land Conservation Winners Announced

U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Greenville, SCFor IMMEDIATE RELEASE (September 18, 2014)

Bob Barnes works the hallways of Washington, DC, pressing the need for land conservation to help protect military readiness and training. Just southwest of Darien, Georgia, the Townsend Bombing Range Encroachment Partnering Team has helped conserve more than 30,000 acres essential for air trainingexercises for the Marines, Georgia Air National Guard, and America’s allies. Both are winners of theinaugural Nancy Natoli Élan Award for Innovation in Land Conservation.

The Townsend Bombing Range Encroachment Partnering Team (Team) brings together an unexpected group of partners representing military and conservation interests. Some members are driven by the need to ensure training space for the Marine Aircraft Group, based at the Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, SC and the Navy, Air Force, and Army users from more than 15 installations in the Southeast that train at the range. Others are motivated to help protect more than 100 species of rare plants and animals found inGeorgia’s Altamaha River corridor—more globally imperiled species than any other river system in Georgia.

The Team’s efforts have resulted in more than 30,000 acres being conserved as part of a broader initiativeto protect 120,000 acres along a 42 mile stretch of the Altamaha River. And it’s not just the Department of Defense and nature that benefit: the Altamaha River supports more than 30% of Georgia’s $80 million/year commercial fisheries and a third of the State’s $350 million/year recreational fisheries.

The Townsend Bombing Range, located in McIntosh County, Georgia, provides important training facilities for users from five states, and will be a premier training asset for the F35B Joint Strike Fighter, which is based at Marine Air Corps Station Beaufort. Protecting the Altamaha River corridor helps the Department of Defense protect its mission at Townsend Bombing Range by buffering the range from land uses that are noise sensitive or tall enough to limit flight operations.

Signatories to the Team include: Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort; Georgia Department of Natural Resources; The Nature Conservancy; and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast.

The Team has attracted a wide-variety of contributions to help support its land protection efforts, including support from the: Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Initiative; Georgia Department of Natural Resources; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; USDA Forest Service; The Nature Conservancy; the Georgia Ornithological Society; National Wild Turkey Federation; Ducks Unlimited; theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program; and substantial donations from private individuals and foundations.

Co-winner Bob Barnes served in the Army for 32 years, retiring as Brigadier General, Judge AdvocateGeneral’s Corps. His last assignment was as the Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Army for Civil Lawand Litigation. A little more than a year after retiring from the Army, Barnes joined The Nature Conservancy as Senior Policy Advisor, Department of Defense.

It was at The Nature Conservancy that Barnes became a tireless supporter of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Initiative (REPI), which “…protects military sustainability by addressing and removing restrictions to allow commanders the greatest flexibility to ensure our militarymen and women can test, train, and operate now and into the future.” REPI “promotes innovative landconservation solutions that benefit military readiness, neighboring communities, and the environment.”Bruce Beard, who nominated Barnes for this award, notes that Barnes has “been a leading voice helping nurture vital U.S. Senate and House “champions” for the REPI program.”

Barnes’ mastery of the technical provisions of the REPI program has reaped big benefits for the military and for natural resource conservation. For example, he helped draft, and led in advocating for, five substantive amendments to the REPI statutes adopted by Congress since 2006 to improve the program’seffectiveness. These include an amendment passed by Congress last year to allow REPI funds to be used by partners to help satisfy “match” or cost-share requirements of other federal conservation programs, opening up new avenues for funding projects to protect areas of habitat that will also protect Department of Defense installations from encroachment. The end result is that more REPI partners will now be able to participate and more acres will be protected. Barnes also helped draft and successfully advocated for three amendments to the Sikes Act, and for a separate statute authorizing DoD to participate in habitatbanking, all important “tools in the toolbox” to achieve the multiple objectives of REPI.

Barnes retired from his position as a Senior Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy in May of 2014, but continues to serve as a volunteer, focusing on the intersection of conservation and national security in the US and globally.

“The Townsend Bombing Range Encroachment Partnering Team and Bob Barnes epitomize Nancy Natoli’s passion for, and commitment to, military sustainability and natural resource conservation,” said PeterStangel, Senior Vice President at the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment). The Endowment helped coordinate the Nancy Natoli Élan Award for Innovation in Land Conservation on behalfof a group of her colleagues. “She would be exceptionally proud of their efforts, and her spirit will live onin their considerable achievements.”

Nancy Natoli, who led the Pentagon’s effort to protect military test and training facilities fromincompatible development, passed away September 17, 2013 at the age of 48. Natoli had been the program director of the REPI Program since February 2012, after serving as a program coordinator for the previous three years.

The annual Nancy Natoli Élan Award for Innovation in Land Conservation recognizes individuals, teams, ororganizations, which, in Nancy’s spirit, have taken existing, undersized land conservation opportunities and tweaked them for unexpected or outsized results, or identified and implemented new land conservation opportunities. The concept and criteria for the Award were developed by her friends at: Compatible Lands Foundation; Conservation Pathways, LLC; the Endowment; Island Press; Lyme Timber Company; Open Space Institute; REPI; Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources; TravelStorysGPS, LLC, and; Yale University Center for Business & the Environment.


For more information contact:
Peter Stangel, Senior Vice President, 404-915-2763;
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic,transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests andforest-reliant communities –

Townsend Bombing Range Encroachment Partnering Team: Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Public Affairs Office, 843-228-6123.

Bob Barnes and The Nature Conservancy: Heather Layman, 703-841-3929;

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