Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB)
Army Compatible Use Buffers (ACUBs) support the Army's mission to fight and win the nation's wars. Winning wars requires a trained and ready force. Trained and ready Soldiers require land for maneuvers, live fire, testing and other operations. ACUBs establish buffer areas around Army installations to limit effects of encroachment and maximize land inside the installation that can be used to support the installation's mission.
ACUBs support the Army's responsibility as a federal agency to comply with all environmental regulations, including endangered species habitat protection. By working in partnership with conservation organizations, ACUBs can coordinate habitat conservation planning at the ecosystem level to ensure that greater benefits are realized towards species and habitat recovery.
ACUBs also support local and regional planning and sustainability efforts by emphasizing partnerships with state and local governments and private conservation organizations to work towards common objectives and leveraging public and private funds towards those common goals.
Conservation organizations are becoming the military's most effective neighbors by collaborating to protect land adjacent to military installations.
The ACUB program is an integral component of the Army’s sustainability triple bottom line: mission, environment, and community. The program is an innovative tool to address encroachment and achieve conservation objectives by proactively addressing encroachment that causes costly workarounds or compromises training realism. Title 10, Section 2684a of the United States Code authorizes the Department of Defense to partner with non-Federal governments or private organizations to establish buffers around installations. The Army implements this authority through the ACUB program, which is managed jointly at Army Headquarters level by the offices of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and the Director of Training.
An ACUB allows an installation to work with partners to encumber land to protect habitat and training without acquiring any new land for Army ownership. Through ACUBs, the Army reaches out to partners to identify mutual objectives of land conservation and to prevent development of critical open areas. The program allows the Army to contribute funds to the partner’s purchase of easements or properties from willing landowners. These partnerships preserve high-value habitat and limit incompatible development in the vicinity of military installations.
The United States originally established military installations in rural areas far from population centers. As the Nation's population has grown, urban sprawl now abuts many installations. Noise, dust, and smoke from weapons, vehicles, and aircraft prompt citizen complaints about military training. Commanders frequently are required to choose between being good neighbors and meeting training and testing requirements. Noise concerns, the presence of cultural and historic resources, and the distribution of endangered species can result in training restrictions affecting military readiness. This is referred to as encroachment.
Encroachment is defined as urban development surrounding military installations that affects the ability of the military to train realistically. More than 40 percent of installations report encroachment issues.
The Army Headquarters has formalized an ACUB process that is initiated locally at the installation level but reviewed, approved, and funded centrally. For ACUBs, the cooperating partner purchases easements or fee simple property from a willing seller with funds contributed by the Army and other partners. These areas provide a natural buffer between military training lands and residential or commercial activities for perpetuity. The partner, not the Army, receives the deeded interest in the property and provides for long-term habitat management. Pursuant to the terms of the Cooperative Agreement and with land owner permission, the installation may retain access rights to conduct compatible military training.
- Army realizes greater training flexibility and reduced encroachment
- Partner gets financial support for land conservation, including endangered species and habitat protection, and other conservation uses
- Private landowners realize financial incentives and tax benefits while preserving land legacy and heritage for future generations
- FY06 ACUB End-of-Year Summary
- FY05 ACUB End-of-Year Summary
- ACUB Program Brochure
- Federally Funded Grant Programs - Funding Resources Manual
- Compatible Use Buffers: A New Weapon to Battle Encroachment
Visit the ACUB website at the U.S. Army Environmental Command.
To contact us for further information regarding ACUBs, please use the Contact form.
For ACUB-related news & events, please visit the News & Events page.
For ACUB-related links, please go to the Links page.