The increased public and scientific concerns involving the environmental effects of military training and testing activities on Department of Defense (DoD) land, air, and water resources arise at the same time that the available resources used to examine these risks are declining.

Through this project, the DoD will develop a structured, scientifically valid ecological risk assessment (ERA) framework that may be used for rapid, cost-effective evaluation of the potential effects of single, multiple, and cumulative impacts of military activities on DoD properties.

Technical Approach

The ERA framework incorporates physical, chemical, and biological stressors (including noise) and direct and indirect effects. It relates risk to natural resources with risk to the mission. A four-step process will be used to develop the first level conceptual framework. The later iterations will be devoted to the development of a second level implementation framework component for each of a series of generic types of hazards associated with training and testing. Examples will include aircraft overflights, use of ocean ranges, and weapons firing on military lands. As each component is developed, it will be linked into the overall assessment of risks. The framework will be compatible with the data management systems and environmental models used by the DoD.


The DoD Inter-Service User Advisory Group was established to provide project direction. The general conceptual framework for military training and testing was developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In addition to framework development, options to link incremental cost analysis with risk assessment were evaluated. Two publications in the journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment describe some of the risk assessment framework: “A Framework for Assessment of Ecological Risks from Multiple Activities” and “Developing Conceptual Models for Complex Ecological Risk Assessments.” Activity-specific implementation risk assessment frameworks are in development for aircraft overflights, use of ocean ranges, and firing at targets. Additional work has been initiated to test these frameworks at a military installation where risks may be associated with multiple training or testing activities.


This project will provide DoD installation managers with defensible environmental documentation and planning support to assess the effects of military training and testing activities.