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Laws & regulations

Since the late 1960s, legislation governing management of natural resources has proliferated significantly increasing the role and responsibilities of DoD in the process. Many of these laws require Federal projects to be evaluated for their impact on the environment. Others are aimed at preventing pollution or protecting plants, wildlife, and cultural resources.
The Sikes Act of 1960 promotes effective planning, development, maintenance, and coordination of wildlife, fish, and game conservation on military lands. It requires integrated natural resources management and promotes coordination among DoD, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and State fish and game agencies.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires that major Federal projects be evaluated for their impact on the environment. It is the key environmental planning law that calls for all information to be provided to decision-makers and the public before actions are taken.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 requires special protection for endangered and threatened species and the habitat necessary for their continued existence. The act directs Federal agencies to enhance the prospects for survival of threatened and endangered species by working cooperatively on conservation and recovery efforts aimed at maintaining viable populations of listed species.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1977 limits and controls pollution of the nation’s waters. Section 404 of this act controls discharge of dredged and fill material to wetlands.

The Defense Appropriations Act (DAA) of 1991 established the Legacy Resource Management Program (Legacy) to enhance management of DoD’s natural and cultural resources. By applying the guiding principles of stewardship, leadership, and partnership, Legacy has enabled DoD to identify, protect, and restore natural resources that are used to carry out mission training and testing requirements. The Legacy program provides much-needed conservation funding to test innovative management techniques and implement new conservation goals.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918 requires Federal protection of migratory birds, their eggs, nests, or young.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1956provides for conservation, protection, restoration, and propagation of certain species, including migratory birds threatened with extinction.

The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 establishes a national program to plan for and manage development of the nation’s coastal lands. The act promotes comprehensive, coordinated planning between Federal and State agencies.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 institutes Federal responsibility for conservation of marine mammals.

The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 seeks to minimize damage to natural resources associated with undeveloped coastal barriers along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The act restricts Federal financial assistance to projects that involve development on coastal barriers and requires that undeveloped coastal areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts be surveyed and their boundaries mapped.

Executive Order 11990 of 1977 requires Federal agencies to take actions to minimize the destruction, loss, or degradation of wetlands.

Executive Order 11988 of 1977 requires Federal agencies to evaluate the effects of actions taken on floodplains.

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 provides an expansion of the National Register of Historic Places, a list of significant historic and prehistoric sites and districts, and procedural protection for these properties. Section 106 of this act requires that federal agencies with direct or indirect jurisdiction over a federal, federally-assisted, or federally-licensed undertaking identify any properties eligible for or listed in the National Register. Sites listed on the National Register have national, regional, or statewide significance and are only listed after an exhaustive research program. If a series of sites is affiliated or has significance as a group, then a National Register District is formed.

The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) of 1979 sets up penalties for destruction or removal of archeological materials from federal land without the proper permits. Requirements for obtaining these permits are also established by this regulation.

The Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act (Moss-Bennett Act) of 1974 provides for the protection of historic and archaeological sites threatened by federal and federally-funded or assisted construction projects.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990 provides requirements for the treatment, repatriation, determination of ownership, and control of human remains and cultural items on Federal or Tribal lands.

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