Press Release
Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst named Service’s Military Conservation Partner of the Year
Collaborative conservation supports rare plants and wildlife and recreational opportunities
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McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. − Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst in New Jersey was named the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 19th Annual Military Conservation Partner Award for its outstanding contributions to natural resource management.

Colonel Michael Stefanovic accepted the award on behalf of the installation, which is located almost entirely within the Pinelands National Reserve, during a ceremony on August 14, 2023, attended by representatives from the Department of Defense and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This award represents our shared success,” said Service Deputy Director Siva Sundaresan, who delivered remarks at the event. “Although the primary objectives and mission of military services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be different, the outcomes of collaborative conservation are beneficial to all. We are proud to partner with Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst and look forward to many years of collaboration.”

Sharon Marino, assistant regional director for the Service’s Ecological Service’s program in the Northeast, shared highlights of the installation’s accomplishments before she presented the award.

“Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst’s approach to stewardship reflects a sense of place and urgency,” Marino said. “It takes into account big-picture needs of the Pinelands ecosystem – from minimizing habitat fragmentation, to protecting native species, to discouraging invasives – and leverages a diverse network of partners and practices to meet them.” 

Colonel Michael Stefanovic accepts the Military Conservation Partner Award on behalf of Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst from Sharon Marino, assistant regional director for the Service’s Ecological Service’s program in the Northeast.

The installation is home to several federally protected species, including northern long-eared bat, bog turtle, and swamp pink, and works closely with the Service’s New Jersey Ecological Services Field Office on management and recovery. 

The award recognizes military installations that advance natural resource conservation through tangible, on-the-ground programs and projects marked by conservation success and effectiveness and achieved through cooperation and communication with partners.

The installation’s forward-thinking approach to conservation is captured in a new Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan it is working to implement in partnership with the Service and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The plan identifies key natural resources and actions needed to manage them to support biological diversity within the base boundaries while providing connectivity to the surrounding natural areas surrounding. 

Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst has also been a valuable partner in proactive conservation for at-risk species, those that face declines but could rebound through strategic action. 

Thanks to strategic work with the Service and other partners to expand and protect grassland habitat, the installation provides a safe haven for many rare grassland bird species, including the upland sandpiper. 

Work to expand and protect the grasslands at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst is providing important breeding habitat for a wide variety of grassland birds, many of which are rare and imperiled.

The installation also operates robust outdoor education and recreation programs including hunting, fishing, shooting, hiking, and birding, which are supported by two Conservation Law Enforcement Officers working within the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System, and enhances public safety in the area.

Wildland firefighters for the National Wildlife Refuge System support the U.S. Air Force’s wildland fire module program at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst and, along with the Bureau of Land Management, assist with mitigating the wildland fire threat to a large section of Burlington and Ocean counties and neighboring tracts of state-owned land that benefit from this protection.  

The Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation program established the Military Conservation Partner Award in 2004 to recognize military installations for their outstanding work to conserve important wildlife and their habitats on military land.

The program serves to strategically improve aquatic habitat, restore connectivity of the nation’s waterways, prevent infestations of invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
, and enhance the recreational use of aquatic resources.

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