A unique partnership was developed in 2006 when we began working with the Army/Fort Drum and Ducks Unlimited through the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program.
The purpose of the ACUB program is to limit use or development of property near the Fort Drum installation to agricultural and forestry uses. This minimizes encroachment while protecting conservation values and open space. Encroachment is urban development surrounding military installations that negatively affect the ability of the military to train realistically.
The ACUB program benefits the Army, the land trust and the landowner. The Army maintains or enhances training capabilities, we protect open space, and the landowner is paid not to develop their land, and in most cases, the landowners will continue to farm or work the land.
“The North Country is a special place, and it is partnerships like these that make Fort Drum so unique,” states Michael H. McKinnon, Fort Drum Deputy Garrison Commander. “From the early days when the 10th Mountain Division was activated, the North Country community embraced the military as one of its own.’
“Today, the ACUB program continues in that same tradition, and is a great example of neighbors working together to protect family farms, while preserving Fort Drum’s training capability well into the future.”
As of July 2017, there have been 24 farms protected through the ACUB program with Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust covering 7,390-acres of working farmland.
When participating with the ACUB program, families work with Tug Hill Tomorrow and Ducks Unlimited to create a conservation plan for the property. The plan addresses immediate and long-term goals, while ensuring flexibility for future operations. Families are then paid through the ACUB program for the appraised value of their non-farm development rights, as determined by a state-qualified appraiser familiar with this type of conservation project. The properties remain in private ownership and stay on the tax rolls. The farmers or landowners are not told how to farm or manage their land in the agreement, as we believe farmers and local landowners are important stewards of the land.
“The ACUB program strengthens our local farming community by providing financial resources to these farm families,” explains Mark Pacilio, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Executive Director. “These farmers and landowners have a great connection to their land and share a passion for the long-term importance of farming. Through this program, landowners have used the funds they received to invest back into the farm or to help facilitate passing the farm on to the next generation—and most importantly the land will continue to be available for agriculture.”
As Fort Drum and the Army continue to be a vital part of the North Country, the ACUB program is going strong. We’re currently working with two families to protect their lands.
If you’re interested in more information about the ACUB program please contact Associate Director, JJ Schell at (315) 779-8240 or email him at email@example.com.