DVIDS – NEWS – The childhood love of the Chief of the Fort Stewart Fish and Wildlife Branch for Animals leads to a conservation career

Larry Carlisle was set to work with animals from an early age. When he was in the third grade, he would wait until he was out of his mother’s sight before diving into the desert on his daily walk to school at Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix.
“She told me not to walk to school in the desert, but I did it anyway because I was intrigued by her,” Carlisle said. “I could see road racers, gumball quails and horned lizards and all kinds of cacti and hummingbirds and things like that. I was totally and completely fascinated by it.”
Moving to Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia, brought Carlisle to Georgia. His love for wildlife did not stop.
“I kept fascinated by all the things in this state like gopher turtles, tall pines, and Nile snakes,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle’s childhood fascination led to hands-on work with a red-bellied woodpecker at the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield when he joined the Fish and Wildlife Branch Directorate of Public Works as a wildlife biologist in 1994. Working his way up to becoming superintendent in 2010 then Then head of the branch in 2019.
As a wildlife biologist, Carlisle has conducted surveys of RCW cavities, early morning tying, night roosting, preparing tree groups for burns described by the Forestry Branch, and more. During his nearly 30 years working here, Carlisle has been steadily increasing the RCW population to its recovery threshold.
“In the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s recovery plan for the red-billed woodpecker, Fort Stewart was supposed to achieve 350 populations of woodpeckers before we considered that population to have recovered,” Carlisle said. “Most of the other facilities and most other state and private properties have been growing all this time as well. Woodpeckers are in much better shape today than they were when I started here in ’94. When I started working here in ’94, we had 150 groups. In season Last breeding, we had 612. We’re way over our recovery limit.”
Steady growth of RCW numbers here allowed species-related training restrictions to be removed in 2012. The removal of restrictions opened up previously closed areas for maneuvering. Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division who contacted the facility took advantage of this, resulting in increased training opportunities.
“When we reached this recovery threshold, we removed all the reflective white bands from all of our woodpecker cavities trees,” Carlisle said. “We removed the diamond yellow marks indicating that the specific soldiers were near the red woodpecker group, allowing them not to worry about that when they are there in an actual training scenario, they can just pass through the forest the way they need.”
In addition to wildlife protection, the Fish and Wildlife Branch contributes to the readiness of the 3rd Infantry Division and other units of the Army and Sister Services by working with landowners who own property adjacent to the facility. Partnerships are legalized by the Army’s compatible use store under the Defense Environment Recovery Program. Carlisle said the land is not bought from the owners. Instead, easements are placed on the lands of neighbors willing to ensure that any use complies with the Fort Stewart mission.
“For the greater part of the easements around Fort Stewart, the easements work, so landowners continue to use their land as they did before the easements were on them,” Carlisle said. “Whether it’s growing Vidalia onions, growing pine trees or having a hunting club, they keep doing it. These properties are still on tax rolls so the counties don’t lose out on the income they expect from taxes.”
ACUB’s recent efforts are in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Conservation Fund, the Nature Preserve and others, to protect the Altamaha River Corridor in southwest Fort Stewart by assembling a conservation area with little or no development in the area. The coming years to allow air maneuvers between the Townsend Bombardment Range near Darien, Georgia—operated by Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina—and the Artillery Impact Area at Fort Stewart.
“You could have fast movers coming in from the ocean to drop bombs in Townsend and then use the same lane to get to Fort Stewart without blowing up the eardrums of people who might be living under the flight path,” Carlisle said.
Another project with preparedness implications, Carlisle said, is the 2010 purchase of Elbow Swamp by the Georgia Alabama Land Trust, another partner in the Fort Stewart ACUB, to create a wetland relief bank. Wetland credits are used to offset environmental impacts from building new training facilities such as existing ranges on existing wetlands. The installation already contains several conservation wetland credits from previous scale projects that were not constructed due to lack of funding.
Fort Stewart Garrison’s commander, Colonel Manuel Ramirez, said such efforts are a testament to Carlisle’s commitment to preserving the environment.
“Larry and his team are deeply engaged with their conservation partners,” Ramirez said. “Together, they are working hard to protect the lands around Fort Stewart in continuation of our premier power supply platform capacity to provide our nation’s trained and ready forces.”
Carlisle and his team ensure that the flora and fauna at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield operate in unison with the facility’s primary mission of training our nation’s military. Nurturing wildlife and conservation efforts make this possible. At the end of the day, though, Carlisle stressed that while the goal is to preserve the ecosystem here, he wants the public to know they can see the natural wonders here.
“All they need is a pass from iSportsman,” he said. “You buy a hunting permit or a hunting permit or just a recreational permit for blueberry picking and birdwatching if people are interested in seeing how beautiful this landscape really is. A lot of people were surprised that it was a military facility. They think it is just a barren landscape until they get here and realize that there is a lot Threatened and endangered species here, many state listed species, and the ecosystem of longleaf pine grass – that’s very rare these days. They can come and see it for themselves.”

Appointment booked: 11.09.2022
Announcement date: 11.09.2022 13:28
Story ID: 432978
Site: Fort Stewart, Georgia, United States

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