McCain, Nature Conservancy join to defend Fort Huachuca

fort-hachukaArizona Senator John McCain, joined with the Nature Conservancy and the Arizona Military Affairs Commission in encouraging the Army to examine how water conservation efforts have dramatically enhanced mission flexibility at Fort Huachuca, Arizona as it evaluates making proposed job cuts at the Fort under the Army’s 2020 Force Structure Realignment.

McCain sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh. He wrote, “Over the past two decades, Fort Huachuca has proven itself as the U.S. Army’s top installation working to conserve water supplies in the arid western United States. In terms relating to the job cuts proposed under the Force Structure Realignment, Fort Huachuca has gone from being a no-growth installation because of limited water availability to a sustainable installation that could feasibly double the size of its current mission if called upon by the U.S. Army. This is a major environmental and military readiness achievement that should not go unnoticed in your review.”

The Nature Conservancy and the Arizona Military Affairs Commission, issued statement in response and support of McCain’s letter.

“The Nature Conservancy recognizes Fort Huachuca and the Army as true leaders in our ongoing partnership to protect and enhance the flowing San Pedro River and its groundwater aquifer,” said Holly Richter, director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy. “The dedicated efforts of Fort Huachuca and its partners to protect and enhance mission capabilities have also benefitted fish and wildlife, and in addition, will strengthen the sustainability and economic health of ranchers and local communities throughout Southeast Arizona into the future.”

“Fort Huachuca is one of Arizona’s and our nation’s most important military installations,” said Lisa Atkins and Tom Finnegan, co-chairs of the Arizona Military Affairs Commission. “The State of Arizona is an active partner in supporting the Fort’s efforts through several Military Installation Fund projects. We agree that the Defense Department should pay special attention to the water conservation efforts by the Fort and how that has enhanced mission flexibility there.”

The letter reads:

October 17, 2014

The Honorable John M. McHugh
Secretary of the Army
U.S. Department of Defense
101 Army Pentagon
Wash DC 20310-0101

Dear Secretary McHugh:

As the Army prepares for the 2020 Force Structure Realignment, I encourage you to examine how water conservation efforts have dramatically enhanced mission flexibility at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Over the past two decades, Fort Huachuca has proven itself as the U.S. Army’s top installation working to conserve water supplies in the arid western United States. Earlier this year, Fort Huachuca achieved its goal of fully offsetting its own water consumption budget of 6,000 acre-feet of water per year (about 1.9 billion gallons of water used annually on and off post) and has exceeded that offset by another 1,300 acre-feet per year. Currently, the Fort is credited with supplying nearby aquifers with more water than it withdraws. In terms relating to the job cuts proposed under the Force Structure Realignment, Fort Huachuca has gone from being a no-growth installation because of limited water availability to a sustainable installation that could feasibly double the size of its current mission if called upon by the Army. This is a major environmental and military readiness achievement that should not go unnoticed in your review.

This success story came about because of Fort Huachuca’s longstanding leadership role in the Upper San Pedro Partnership, a collection of federal, state and local governments, and key environmental organizations who are working to safeguard water levels in the San Pedro River, one of the last major free flowing rivers in the southwest United States. The San Pedro’s riparian habitat is home to a variety of endangered species and other wildlife that’s unique to Arizona’s desert climate. Under to a recent Biological Opinion issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the direct and indirect water consumption by the Fort’s 12,700 employees and their families have been successfully mitigated so as to not negatively impact the endangered species that depend on the San Pedro River.

Impressively, the Fort is aiming to go above and beyond what’s already been accomplished. Its command is currently working with the nearby City of Sierra Vista, Arizona, and the state and county water authorities, and The Nature Conservancy to implement other large-scale water conservation and aquifer recharge projects that will continue to benefit the Fort, the San Pedro River, and the surrounding civilian community. IU.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh to encourage the Army to examine how water conservation efforts have dramatically enhanced mission flexibility at Fort Huachuca, Arizona as it evaluates making proposed job cuts at the Fort under the Army’s 2020 Force Structure Realignment.

“Over the past two decades, Fort Huachuca has proven itself as the U.S. Army’s top installation working to conserve water supplies in the arid western United States,” writes Senator McCain. “In terms relating to the job cuts proposed under the Force Structure Realignment, Fort Huachuca has gone from being a no-growth installation because of limited water availability to a sustainable installation that could feasibly double the size of its current mission if called upon by the U.S. Army. This is a major environmental and military readiness achievement that should not go unnoticed in your review.”

The Nature Conservancy and the Arizona Military Affairs Commission, two organizations heavily engaged with Fort Huachuca’s mission, issued the following statements concerning Senator McCain’s letter:

“The Nature Conservancy recognizes Fort Huachuca and the Army as true leaders in our ongoing partnership to protect and enhance the flowing San Pedro River and its groundwater aquifer,” said Holly Richter, director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy. “The dedicated efforts of Fort Huachuca and its partners to protect and enhance mission capabilities have also benefitted fish and wildlife, and in addition, will strengthen the sustainability and economic health of ranchers and local communities throughout Southeast Arizona into the future.”

“Fort Huachuca is one of Arizona’s and our nation’s most important military installations,” said Lisa Atkins and Tom Finnegan, co-chairs of the Arizona Military Affairs Commission. “The State of Arizona is an active partner in supporting the Fort’s efforts through several Military Installation Fund projects. We agree that the Defense Department should pay special attention to the water conservation efforts by the Fort and how that has enhanced mission flexibility there.”

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