Sustainable Fort Rucker
Sustainable Fort Rucker
 : : Environmental & Natural Resources Division, Directorate of Public Works (DPW) : :

MISSION: In order to sustain the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker's training, readiness, and quality of life needs, we will provide the guidance, actions, and customer assistance necessary to comply with all environmental laws and regulations, prevent pollution where possible, protect and conserve vital natural resources, and continually improve our operations.

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Fish and Wildlife


Fish and Wildlife

Game management is an important component of fish and wildlife management, but it is considerably different from management of other fish and wildlife species.  Game management focuses on the production of harvestable surpluses on a sustained basis. 

Objectives

  • Determine biological and recreational carrying capacities of game and fish species, and set management prescriptions and hunting/fishing harvesting quotas to ensure longevity and sustainment.
  • Identify and map areas to improve or expand habitat for upland game birds through timber harvesting, TSI and the establishment of native grasses
  • Identify and map critical areas of wildlife habitat for protection during timber harvesting
  • Implement any mitigation measures specified in project-specific NEPA analysis relevant to fish and wildlife management or habitat management
  • Establish a schedule for monitoring of lake/pond fish species and plant communities
  • Evaluate and review the effectiveness of the iSportsman program as an upgrade from program usage
  • Evaluate effectiveness of process for coordinating with Range Operations to ensure that an up-to-date roster of closed areas and areas designated for hunting and fishing is available at all times
  • Rebuild the whitetail deer herd population to near carrying capacity levels
  • Combat predator invasive species and feral pigs through an organized volunteer management program
  • Encourage the development of facilities that improve use and enjoyment of fishing, hunting, and other natural resources-based recreation, and increase the use of underutilized areas
  • Install nesting boxes in priority areas
  • Conduct deer herd health surveys on a three-year interval
  • Combat aquatic invasive species in all Installation impoundments
  • Establish schedule for checking pond dams and spillways for maintenance and replacement needs
  • Submit annual REC for NEPA review of upcoming fish and wildlife management activities

When The State of Alabama transferred this land to the War Department in 1942, wild game was scarce (Barkalow, 1949).  Since that time, the installation has been stocked with deer and turkey obtained from state agencies.

 

Terrestrial Habitat Management

 

Habitat trends on Fort Rucker are largely determined by military use, development, forestry practices, and prevailing climate.  The rapid growth of plants, moderate temperatures, and long, snow-free conditions combine to provide a steady supply of food for wildlife.  The harvesting of timber, creation of open areas for flight safety strips, and prescribed burning alter the successional trend in wildlife habitat.  Open fields (covered with native herbs and forbs and interspersed with sparse woody growth) occur throughout the installation, especially in LMUs 1 and 3.  Many upland sites are being converted to native longleaf pine, replacing even-aged stands created by past logging and agricultural practices.  Along streams, larger hardwoods and dense shrubs and vine understory are prevalent. 

Information from the following surveys is used to support terrestrial habitat management:  plant survey (1992), vegetation communities survey (2009).  Gopher Tortoise Baseline Survey (2012), and threatened and endangered species survey (2003). 

Game Management

Game management is an important component of fish and wildlife management, but it is considerably different from management of other fish and wildlife species.  Game management focuses on the production of harvestable surpluses on a sustained basis. Census of game species is required for the establishment of harvest regulations that allow for the sustained use of game species.  The State of Alabama provides the framework within which Fort Rucker must harvest game species.  In some cases, such as management of deer, Fort Rucker imposes more restrictive regulations.  Harvest numbers provide an inexpensive means to monitor game populations.  All game harvested must be reported.  Combining harvest data with hunter effort provides information adequate to manage most game species.

All legally harvested deer are evaluated at deer check stations.  Harvest data collection is the primary source of information to evaluate deer herd condition and establish antlerless deer seasons.  Biologists collect data regarding area harvested, age, and body weights from all deer and determine antler development for bucks and collect incidence of lactation data from does.  Ovaries are sampled for corpora lutea data (to evaluate incidence of pregnancy).  Age-specific antler measurements, body weights, and reproductive data are compared with data from previous years to obtain a trend of the herd’s overall condition.

Fort Rucker Regulation 215-1 outlines specific requirements of hunters, anglers, and trappers for check-out and clearing procedures.  This regulation can change frequently, the most current version is available at the Fort Rucker MWR website (link at top of page). All hunting is controlled through the iSportsman system, which is an automated system.  No hunting is allowed during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’ Day.  Range Operations notifies Outdoor Recreation of areas open or closed to hunting daily, subject to aircraft/training changes.  Hunters are required to use the iSportsman system prior to hunting and following hunting to clear the area.  Hunters are also required to call Range Operations prior to hunting to confirm areas are open at times other than during deer season.  Harvested deer and turkeys must be registered through the weigh-in stations. 

Anglers are not required to check-in or check-out.  When ponds or streams are closed for any reason, notices will be placed on the Outdoor Recreation web site.

Trappers are required to check with Range Operations and utilize the iSportsman system prior to entering areas for trapping.  Trapping is only allowed in open training areas.  Trappers must check with Range Operations and iSportsman each day to determine if areas with traps are open the following day.  If they are to be closed for training, all traps in areas to be closed must be removed prior to that day.  This provision is very restrictive, and it is a primary reason for the extremely limited use of traps on Fort Rucker.  FR Reg. 215-1 includes additional trapping provisions including the requirement to report take to the Fish and Wildlife Section.

The following game species are present on Fort Rucker:

  •       White-tailed deer
  •       Eastern wild turkey
  •       Feral hog
  •       Bobwhite quail
  •       Mourning dove
  •       Waterfowl
  •       Squirrels
  •       Eastern cottontail/swamp rabbit
  •       Raccoon
  •       Opossum
  •       Fox
  •       Bobcat
  •       Snipe
  •       Rail
  •       Purple gallinule
  •       Common moorhens
  •       Woodcock

 Fishing

Lakes, streams, and rivers are available for recreational fishing, provided they are not closed due to military training, fisheries management, renovation, or other activity.  Fish harvest for each body of water will be designated by creel, possession, and length limits for each game fish species.  Possession and length limits are posted at each managed lake.

A state license and a post fishing permit are required to fish on Fort Rucker.  For more information call Outdoor Recreation at 334-255-4305.

The following fish are the primary species at Fort Rucker:

  •     Florida largemouth bass
  •     Bluegill
  •     Shellcracker (redear)

Endangered, Threatened, and Species at Risk

There are a number of federally listed mussel species for which streams on Fort Rucker provide suitable habitat.  The southern sandshell, southern kidneyshell, Choctaw bean, tapered pigtoe, and fuzzy pigtoe occur in the Choctawhatchee watershed, of which Claybank Creek and Steephead Creek on the Installation are part.  The Choctaw bean and fuzzy pigtoe have been recorded on Fort Rucker in recent invertebrate surveys. However, the other species have not been found in any recent surveys.  Also, the gopher tortoise is an Army Species-at risk and a state of Alabama protected species. The eastern population of the gopher tortoise is a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Much of the prime gopher tortoise habitat on Fort Rucker occurs in the Impact Area.  Should the eastern population of the gopher tortoise be listed as endangered or threatened, it could impact the mission.  

 

Contact Information

Wildlife POC
(334) 255-1664
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