An aquifer is a water-bearing rock or sediment that is saturated and permeable enough to store water.

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Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities

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Variations in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer that encompass increases and decreases in temperature, shifts in precipitation, and changing risk of certain types of severe weather events.

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Adjustment in natural or human systems in anticipation of or response to a changing environment in a way that effectively uses beneficial opportunities or reduces negative effects.

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A cooperative agreement is a legal instrument of financial assistance between a federal awarding agency and a recipient.

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A cost-sharing agreement is an agreement under which parties agree to share a percentage of the total project cost.

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Desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or unsustainable agriculture.

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Department of Defense

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An easement is a legal right to use another's land for a specific limited purpose; when an entity is granted an easement, it is allowed the legal right to use the property, but the legal title to the land itself remains with the owner of the land. In this case, easements granted to REPI and its partners allow the program to protect the land by limiting the uses of the land.

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External, as well as internal, DoD factors and influences that constrain or have the potential to inhibit the full access or operational use of the live training or test domain. Examples include, but are not limited to, endangered species and critical habitat, unexploded ordnance and munitions, radio frequency spectrum, maritime or airspace restrictions, air quality, airborne noise, urban growth, physical obstructions, and renewable energy projects.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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This is a general term used to indicate a base, fort, camp, or other DoD facility.

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An Intergovernmental Support Agreement is a partnership agreement between installations and their State or local governments to receive, provide, or share installation support services.

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A living shoreline is a stabilized coastal edge made of natural materials such as plants, sand, or rock.

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The capability of a military installation to avoid, prepare for, minimize the effect of, adapt to, and recover from extreme weather events, or from anticipated or unanticipated changes in environmental conditions, that do, or have the potential to, adversely affect the military installation or essential transportation, logistical, or other necessary resources outside of the military installation that are necessary in order to maintain, improve, or rapidly reestablish installation mission assurance and mission-essential functions.

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National Association of Conservation Districts

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National Association of Counties

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National Conference of State Legislatures

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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

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Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation

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A partner is a private or governmental entity that provides financial, technical, real estate, legal, or other significant support to a Military Service in the pursuit or conduct of a REPI project or transaction. Examples include federal agencies, state and local authorities, national nonprofit conservation organizations, and local land trusts. Eligible entities under Section § 2684a are a defined subset of partners.

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Permafrost is any ground that remains completely frozen for a period of two or more years.

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A prescribed burn is a fire set intentionally for purposes of forest management, farming, or ecosystem restoration.

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The term “range,” when used in a geographic sense, means a designated land or water area that is set aside, managed, and used for range activities of the Department of Defense. Such term includes the following: firing lines and positions, maneuver areas, firing lanes, test pads, detonation pads, impact areas, electronic scoring sites, buffer zones with restricted access, exclusionary areas, and airspace areas designated for military use in accordance with regulations and procedures prescribed by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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DoD Instruction 4715.24, “The Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program and Encroachment Management,” establishes policy, assigns responsibility, and provides procedures for executing the REPI program.

A riparian buffer is an area adjacent to a river or stream that contains a combination of trees, shrubs, or other vegetation.

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Saltwater intrusion is the encroachment of saltwater into groundwater or a freshwater aquifer. The intrusion of saltwater contaminates the freshwater stored in aquifers, making the resource unsuitable for use.

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Sea level rise is the increase in sea levels over time due to added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Both phenomena can be attributed to global warming.

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Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability

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Storm surge is the abnormal rise in seawater level during a storm, caused primarily by winds pushing water onshore.

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A substrate is a surface or base where an organism lives or grows.

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United States Code

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Wave energy refers to energy passing through ocean water, causing it to move in a circular motion.

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Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present near the surface of the soil for an extended period of time.

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Western Regional Partnership

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Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, White House, 3 March 2021.

Army Climate Resilience Handbook, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, August 2020.

Green Infrastructure Cost-Benefit Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, November 2020.

Building Resilience to Climate Change

Through Off-Base Natural Infrastructure Solutions

Climate Change as a National Security Threat

Climate change is a national security threat that has tangible impacts on military readiness. In 2019, the Department of Defense (DoD) examined climate vulnerabilities at numerous military installations across the country.1 Of the 79 sites surveyed, over two-thirds are vulnerable to future recurrent flooding and more than one-half are vulnerable to future droughts and wildfires. Extreme weather events like these cause damage to defense facilities that undermine their operational capacity. For example, in 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated Tyndall Air Force Base—compromising training grounds, impairing valuable equipment, and creating hazardous conditions for personnel. This event prevented military units from conducting critical training activities and led to almost $5 billion in repairs, diverting resources away from other mission-critical efforts.2

Learn More About Climate Impacts

Climate Change Impacts That Threaten Military Activities

Numerous climate change impacts threaten military installations. The most common are:


Common Causes

  • Land degradation
  • Overgrazing
  • Urbanization
  • Flash droughts


Common Causes

  • Little or no rain fall
  • Warmer temperatures
  • Depleted soil moisture levels

Coastal and Riverine Flooding

Common Causes

  • Prolonged rainfall
  • Short-duration intense rainfall
  • Storm surge
  • High tides
  • Sea level rise
  • Extreme weather events

Thawing Permafrost

Common Causes

  • Warmer temperatures
  • Infrastructure placement
  • Climate variability

Common Causes

  • Human-caused fires
  • Warmer temperatures
  • Lightning
  • Unmanaged forests

How REPI Helps DoD Build Resilience to Climate Change

As stated in the 2021 Interim National Security Guidance, reducing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on military readiness is a top priority for DoD.3 To help accomplish this, DoD uses the resources, expertise, and legal authorities of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program.

What Is the REPI Program?

DoD established the REPI program in 2005 to combat encroachment, which it defines as pressures that adversely affect the military’s use of its training and testing lands. Traditionally, the program has focused on encroachment risks stemming from land use conversion around military bases—namely, incompatible development and habitat loss. Incompatible development around defense facilities causes light pollution, spectrum interference, airspace obstructions, and other challenges that may disrupt testing, training, and operations on base. Habitat loss, meanwhile, causes imperiled species to migrate onto DoD land, potentially triggering environmental restrictions on military activities.

Using authority from Congress, the REPI program funds cost-sharing partnerships between the Military Services and state agencies, local governments, or private organizations that identify and address encroachment risks. These partnerships acquire real property interests, typically in the form of conservation easements, from willing landowners and, when applicable, conduct natural resource restoration work on the land. As REPI projects mature, they form areas of protected or restored land in the vicinity of military installations that reduce the likelihood of land-use conflicts between the base and surrounding communities.

How Can the REPI Program Enhance Climate Resilience?

Climate change impacts, like incompatible development and habitat loss, have evolved into a significant encroachment threat for DoD.4 The military’s access to its land, air, and sea-based training facilities is increasingly at risk due to climate-related issues. Failing to adapt to these conditions will limit DoD’s ability to respond effectively to domestic and foreign crises. Recognizing this vulnerability, Congress, at DoD’s request, expanded REPI’s primary legal authority, 10 U.S.C. § 2684a, in 2019 to include climate change adaptation as a core focus of the REPI program.

The statutory amendment granted under 10 U.S.C. § 2684a gives the REPI program authority to fund projects that maintain or improve “military installation resilience ”—increasing the ability of an installation to withstand extreme weather events or changes in environmental conditions. Because resilience projects take different forms in practice, the REPI program has specified that it will exclusively focus on enhancing or developing off-base natural infrastructure.

To celebrate Earth Day, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, REPI program Director Kristin Thomasgard, Naval Air Station Patuxent River Commanding Officer CAPT John Brabazon, and a selection of conservation partners visited the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks acknowledged that “REPI funds can also be leveraged by our partners to satisfy any matching or cost-sharing requirement of any conservation or resilience program of any Federal agency. This presents an incredible opportunity for DoD to collaborate with our inter-agency partners, and enhance state, local, and non-governmental initiatives that complement REPI’s climate resilience efforts.”

What Are Natural Infrastructure Solutions?

Natural infrastructure is an evolving term that lacks a universal definition and may also be referred to as green infrastructure or nature-based solutions. Within the context of addressing climate change effects, it refers to the use of naturally occurring features or landscapes that forestall the adverse effects of climate change—for example, tidal marshes that slow the rate of erosion or healthy forests that reduce the risk of wildfires. Restoring or enhancing these systems is among the most cost-effective, sustainable ways to make military installations more resilient to climate change.5 6 7 The reason for this is twofold. First, natural infrastructure solutions create an initial line-of-defense for DoD’s built infrastructure by amplifying existing ecological benefits, meaning they often cost less than “grey” infrastructure alternatives. And second, natural infrastructure solutions fuel economic productivity and enhance well-being for local communities, many of which have strong ties to the military’s presence.8

Learn More About Natural Infrastructure Solutions

Examples of Natural Infrastructure Solutions
Building Retention Berms
Conducting Prescribed Burns
Conducting Soil Rehabilitation
Constructing Living Shorelines
Enhancing Riparian Buffers
Recharging Aquifers
Removing Hazardous Fuel Loads
Restoring Dunes
Restoring Wetlands
Installing Stormwater Detention Basins

Legal Authorities Used in REPI Resilience Projects

The REPI program’s ability to finance climate adaptation projects lies in three different legal authorities from Congress. The first, and most commonly used, is 10 U.S.C. § 2684a. This statute allows DoD to fund natural infrastructure projects on parcels already protected by the REPI program. DoD typically allocates funding under this authority in a single lump sum. However, because natural infrastructure projects are long-term initiatives, partners may wait to use the money to cover future costs associated with their project. In such situations, partners can place DoD REPI funds in interest-bearing accounts but must spend any interest accrued on the same purpose for which the funding was originally allocated.

The second legal authority that can be used for a REPI resilience project is 16 U.S.C. § 670c-1, known as the “Sikes Act.” Like 10 U.S.C. § 2684a, the Sikes Act allows DoD to provide funding to natural resource management, including natural infrastructure projects. A recipient of such funds will also have the ability place the money in interest-bearing accounts, when necessary. 10 U.S.C. § 2684a requires DoD to have permanently protected or acquired a restrictive easement on the parcel where the natural infrastructure project will occur—the Sikes Act, on the other hand, does not. Instead, Sikes Act projects can happen on state, local government, tribal, and private lands that are not protected by DoD.

The third legal authority that REPI resilience projects may use is 10 U.S.C. § 2679, which authorizes Intergovernmental Support Agreements (IGSAs). IGSAs allow DoD to participate in and fund public services typically administered by state or local governments that build resilience to climate change in areas with military installations.

Legal Authorities Used by REPI Resilience Projects
10 U.S.C. § 2684a 16 U.S.C. § 670 c-1
(The Sikes Act)
10 U.S.C. § 2679 (IGSAs)
Agreement Type Cost-sharing agreements Cooperative agreements or interagency agreements Intergovernmental Support Agreements (IGSAs)
Eligible Entities State or local governments and non-governmental organizations State or local governments, Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations, and other federal agencies State or local governments
Resilience Opportunities DoD can build installation resilience by funding activities that enhance off-base natural infrastructure. DoD can build installation resilience by funding activities that restore high value habitat or natural resources. DoD can fund public services typically administered by state or local governments that build resilience to climate change in areas with installations.
Eligible Land Projects can take place on properties already protected by the REPI program. Projects can take place on state land, local government land, tribal land, and private land. N/A

How to Develop a REPI Resilience Project

The graphic below outlines the steps that installations and their partners should take to pursue funding from the REPI program for a climate resilience project. It is important to note that these steps serve as guidance and may not be the same for every installation or partner. Adapting these steps to fit your specific needs is not only recommended but encouraged.

Installation Path

Step 1

Assess Climate Change Concerns and Mission Impacts

Step 2

Identify a Partner

Partner Path

Step 1

Assess Overlapping Priorities and Mission Concerns

Step 2

Contact Local Installation

Steps Shared by Both Paths

Step 3

Determine Relevant Natural Infrastructure Solutions

Step 4

Enter into a Legal Agreement

Step 5

Explore Complementary Resilience Programs

Step 6

Draft and Submit a REPI Proposal

REPI Resilience Project Examples

Since Congress expanded 10 U.S.C. § 2684a in Fiscal Year 2019, the REPI program has funded several successful resilience projects across the country. You can find details on several such initiatives below. For updates on new and existing resilience efforts, please view the REPI project fact sheets on the REPI website.

Building Resilience to Hurricanes

Naval Weapons Station Earle, New Jersey

In 2012, Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle and the surrounding community sustained roughly $50 million in damages from Hurricane Sandy. To mitigate future costs from storm damage, the Navy is working with Monmouth County to purchase conservation easements that will preserve critical nearby wetlands. Protecting this land will also secure the base’s sensitive drinking water supply from over-withdrawal and salt intrusion and enhance storm water capacity across multiple watersheds. NWS Earle and a consortium of DoD installations and ranges were awarded $2 million through the 2020 REPI Challenge to fund an Intergovernmental Support Agreement under 10 U.S.C. § 2679 with the State of New Jersey. The agreement and funding support beach nourishment, living shoreline establishment, storm surge reduction, stormwater management and storage capacity enhancement, and wildfire mitigation. These resilience initiatives span over 1.6 million acres and will improve and maintain the waterways along NWS Earle’s 2.9-mile-long Pier Complex.

Reducing Flood Risk

Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Virginia

NWS Yorktown, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science received funding from the 2020 and 2021 REPI Challenge to conserve and restore shoreline and nearshore areas critical protecting to NWS Yorktown’s infrastructure and mission. This project will implement natural infrastructure solutions to stabilize Penniman Spit, which has lost over 86% of its area since 1937. The project design will also incorporate living shoreline (e.g. marsh plantings and wetland restoration) and install oyster reef habitat structures to restore and enhance over 2,900 linear feet of shoreline, increase oyster recruitment, and improve water quality within the York River ecosystem. Restoring and protecting this shoreline from erosion complements ongoing habitat and oyster restoration efforts by other federal and state agencies in the York River area, while also improving installation resilience

Water Conservation and Wildfire Risk Reduction

Fort Huachuca, Arizona

Working with the Bureau of Land Management, Fort Huachuca’s partners, including Arizona Land and Water Trust and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, have purchased easements to protect crucial groundwater supplies within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. By reducing groundwater pumping, the project protects the future of the San Pedro and Babocomari Rivers. Fort Huachuca was also awarded $2.1 million through the 2020 REPI Challenge to fund an interagency agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. This innovative interagency agreement supports wildfire mitigation strategies to decrease wildfire risk in the nearby national forest where the Army conducts no impact, critical testing activities. Protecting these compatible lands will also help maintain the low levels of electromagnetic and signals interference, which are necessary for operations at Fort Huachuca.

Building a Living Shoreline to Support Mission Readiness

Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina

Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point is situated on the coast of eastern North Carolina—an area threatened by erosion, storm surge, and saltwater intrusion. These threats directly impact the special warfare training and operational capabilities of MCAS Cherry Point, Piney Island Bombing Range, and Brant Shoal Bombing Range. To adapt to these threats, the North Carolina Sentinel Landscape Committee and North Carolina Coastal Federation were awarded $1 million in 2020 REPI Challenge funding to build a living shoreline along the Neuse River. This living shoreline will buffer 2,100 linear feet of eroding shoreline using REPI Challenge funds and an additional 5,600 linear feet through hurricane recovery commitments, contributing to the strategic goals of the Eastern North Carolina Sentinel Landscape and improving the resilience of MCAS Cherry Point. To see the construction of the living shoreline at MCAS Cherry Point, please watch this video.