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Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Program

Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center (FTIG) is one of the busiest National Guard training sites in the country, with over 100,000 troops training there annually.  FTIG is home to the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site (EAATS), making Muir Army National Guard Airfield at FTIG the Army's second-busiest heliport.  FTIG also provides ground training support and hosts multiple military equipment maintenance facilities, artillery exercises, and a live-fire air-to-ground training range.

Fort Indiantown Gap, like many other military installations in the United States, was originally established in a rural area far from a population center. With population growth, urban sprawl, and other development has come an increasing number of citizen complaints about military training that generates noise, dust, and, smoke from weapons, vehicles, and aircraft.  Commanders frequently are required to choose between being good neighbors and meeting training requirements.  Noise and safety concerns, the presence of cultural and historic resources, and the distribution of endangered species can often result in training restrictions affecting military readiness.

FTIG's relatively small size (approximately 17,000-acres) and high number of training days each year (over 100,000 personnel training over 700,000 man-days as of 2017), influences the size of its training footprint, resulting in impacts from training that extend outside the Installation boundary.  This increases the possibility of both internal and external training restrictions that can affect mission readiness.  External limitations on military training are often referred to as "encroachment".  The Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program is part of the U.S. Army's effort to limit encroachment and maintain a balance among military training requirements, community desires, and environmental protection.

Why is the ACUB Program Important?
The ACUB program is designed to minimize incompatible development and loss of habitat by utilizing permanent conservation easements, fee-sales, or other interests in land from willing landowners. In the case of conservation easements or similar agreements, the landowner retains ownership and rights to use the land for the purposes specified in the agreement. 

Fort Indiantown Gap is one of the smallest Army-associated military training installations in the country, but has one of its highest annual soldier training rates.  Use of the ACUB buffer program allows FTIG to continue to maximize its training throughput and the amount of available training land inside the installation boundary.  These buffer areas also contribute benefits to local recreational, agricultural, forest management, and greenspace uses.

What is ACUB?
ACUB is a voluntary program; landowners in the approved project area can decide whether they want to participate.

ACUB is a tool to help buffer the surrounding area from the effects of military training, including noise, smoke, dust, and other factors.  The ACUB buffer area also allows FTIG to maximize use of its existing  training land and assist in planning for current and future training missions.

Besides helping to protect military training capabilities, the ACUB program has several secondary benefits, including community, environmental, and climate resilience benefits. 

What is ACUB Not?
1. ACUB is NOT a program to purchase additional land for training or testing at Fort Indiantown Gap. FTIG, The Pennsylvania National Guard, or the US Army do not own, hold the deed, hold an easement, or retain the development rights to properties in the ACUB program.  Participating properties are held (via fee-sale, easement, deed restriction, or other method) by a third party.

2. ACUB is NOT a program to purchase additional land for Fort Indiantown Gap, to acquire additional training or testing areas, or otherwise increase the acreage of FTIG. FTIG cannot use properties encumbered under its ACUB program for training and testing purposes.

3. ACUB is NOT a mandatory program. The program is 100% voluntary; land owners in the approved ACUB area are NOT required to participate in this program.

Benefits of ACUB

Military Benefits
Benefits to military training from an ACUB program include:
Protects high-noise, live-fire training, including small arms and artillery firing.Protects mounted and un-mounted ground maneuver capabilities.

Supports aviation activities, such as aerial gunnery, bombing, and maneuver training.[VD1] 
Environmental Benefits
ACUB buffer lands directly and indirectly contribute to environmental stewardship:
Supports the goals of local and regional water quality efforts, such as the Chesapeake Bay program.
Helps to preserve important ecological areas, migration routes, and habitat for plant and animal species of concern and candidate species, such as the Kittatinny Ridge corridor, an important regional bird migration corridor.
Protects the viewshed for scenic areas, such as the nearby Appalachian Trail and other local trails and natural areas.
Community Benefits
Communities benefit from the ACUB program in several ways:
Protects working agricultural, forested, and undeveloped lands that benefit the local economy.
Supports recreational activities such as hiking, hunting, trapping, and fishing.
Buffers adjacent properties from noise, dust, and smoke generated during military training

How Does Fort Indiantown Gap's ACUB Program Work?

As shown on the map below, FTIG has identified an area of focus intended to maximize protection of the three benefit areas discussed above.  

Landowners holding real estate in the area identified in red above, and potentially interested in participating in the ACUB program, can complete a Landowner Interest form, and submit it (postal or electronic mail) to the contacts below.  Alternatively, interested landowners can call or e-mail the contact phone numbers below to receive a copy of the interest form via postal mail.

As these interest forms are received, they are evaluated and ranked, based on several criteria.  A list of ranked landowners/projects is developed for each fiscal year and ACUB funding is applied to priority projects, as it becomes available.  FTIG must apply for project funding by the end of each federal fiscal year, to receive money for priority projects for the following fiscal year.  If you are interested in potentially participating in Fort Indiantown Gap's ACUB program, see the Points of Contact below.

Current FTIG ACUB Program Status

As of Jan. 2022:Projects completed:  17Acres encumbered via the FTIG ACUB Program:  9,321.5Other ACUB Priority Acres Encumbered:  181.7

Project Highlights

Since 2016, through a partnership between FTIG, Capital Region Water, the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy, approximately 8,135-acres of land has been protected around the DeHart Reservoir, a high-quality drinking water source, an important part of FTIG's aviation training area, and one of the last large areas of unbroken forested habitat in the region.  This project includes a conservation easement, forest management planning, and carbon offset components.  In 2020, the final Phase 3 of this important conservation project was completed.  The DeHart Reservoir project is the largest ACUB project completed for an Army National Guard installation in the country. 

Points of Contact

For additional information about the Fort Indiantown Gap ACUB program, the following contacts are available: 
ACUB Coordinator
c/o Mr. Daryl Valley
Fort Indiantown Gap
Bureau of Environmental Management
Building 0-11, Service & Wiley Roads
Annville, PA 17003-5002
phone: 717-861-2634

The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation
c/o Mr. Tom Inge
PO Box 519
Halifax, VA 24558
phone: 434-470-1776