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    Ph.D. candidate visits Fort Polk for dissertation information

    Ph.D. candidate visits Fort Polk for dissertation information

    Photo By Chuck Cannon | Rabung speaks with Chris Melder (center) and Christiansen about Red Cockaded...... read more read more



    Story by Chuck Cannon 

    Fort Polk Public Affairs Office

    FORT POLK, La. — Emily Rabung, a Ph.D. candidate from Ohio State University’s School of Environmental and Natural Resources, spent March 13-17 at Fort Polk to get a glimpse of how the installation’s Environmental and Natural Resource Management Division, Directorate of Public Works, is able to mesh protecting endangered species while training the Army’s Soldiers to fight.
    Rabung met with lead wildlife biologist Chris Melder, threatened and endangered species biologists Matt Christiansen and Amy Brennan, and threatened and endangered species data manager Andrhea Massey. They discussed the work done on Fort Polk with the red-cockaded woodpecker and the Louisiana pine snake.
    The Fort Polk ENRMD team are part of a partnership between Fort Polk and the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, headquartered at Colorado State University.
    “The resources available to the conservation branch seem to be significant, especially when compared to other natural resource management agencies,” Rabung said. “I was pleasantly surprised to hear that prescribed fire is not held up by funding concerns as it is often reported as the number one barrier in other federal agencies. Concern with public or political backlash towards decisions also did not seem to be as significant barrier as compared with other agencies.”
    The ecological management of Army-owned land at Fort Polk is mandated through the Sikes Act, which is the main driver for the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan. The plan consists of mutually agreed upon conservation, protection, and management of fish and wildlife resources on Fort Polk military lands. 
    The natural ecosystem of Fort Polk generally consists of longleaf pine, hardwood ridges, riparian streamsides, bogs and baygalls that support a diversity of species.  Fort Polk is home to 237 avian, 50 reptilian, 22 amphibian, 44 mammalian land and 69 butterfly species and more than 1,400 vascular plants, 23 vegetative community types, and many other macro and microorganisms important to ecosystem health. In addition to the red-cockaded woodpecker and Louisiana pine snake, examples of rare and sensitive animals found on the installation are the alligator snapping turtle, the Kisatchie painted crawfish and the monarch butterfly. The Fort Polk INRMP provides for programs designed to facilitate various land management concentrations to support ecosystem health and diversity while keeping the military mission at the forefront.
    Fort Polk has a unique agreement with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that allows installation property to serve as a Wildlife Management Area, furthering Fort Polk’s commitment to providing outdoor recreational opportunities for our community. When training permits, Fort Polk is open to hunting, fishing, bird watching, and nature viewing.  Examples of commonly harvested game animals are white-tailed deer, Northern bobwhite quail, and the Eastern wild turkey.
    Rabung has scheduled visits to several other military installations to see how they handle balancing training with protecting the environment.
    “There will be many months of analyzing the data I gathered here and comparing it with other sites,” Rabung said. “Once I’m done, I will present my dissertation with my findings.”



    Date Taken: 03.27.2023
    Date Posted: 03.29.2023 10:58
    Story ID: 441448
    Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 

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