Extreme urban growth and the resultant patterns of development outside military installations are undermining the military’s ability to maintain mission focus. Some military installations’ economic and environmental contributions to the local community are becoming outweighed by perceived incompatibilities such as noise, dust, shared resource competition, land use, land value, and land availability. These issues arise as the local community expands and available resources become scarce.

This project identified and addressed the gaps in basic understanding of the risks to military operations and training lands associated with land use transformation outside the military installation boundary. The aim was to improve the overall sustainability of military installations through the application of data and predictive models for urban change and environmental impact assessments. Once the fundamental knowledge gaps were filled, the Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) was applied to installations identified as at-risk from rapid ubranization.

Technical Approach

In this project, researchers expanded on work funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on the Land Use Evolution and Impact Assessment Model (LEAM). They created a military-specific model known as Military Land Use Evolution and Impact Assessment Model (mLEAM). The mLEAM environment was used to graphically analyze simulations of land use scenarios that included inside the military installation fence-line and outside the fence-line dynamics. The SDSS included the development of spatial, societal, and environmental impact assessments. Installation s ustainability indicators were established using both mission and ecological oriented criteria.


The mLEAM software developed under this project is capable of (1) projecting future population levels based on an economic input-output model; (2) projecting future growth patterns of new urban residential, commercial, and open space to accommodate the projected population; (3) identifying areas where future military training and testing can occur without conflict with the surrounding community; and (4) identifying growth impacts on utilities, road networks, water quality, and habitat fragmentation, all of which can indirectly affect installation sustainability. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) offices used mLEAM analyses as part of a final assessment of the impact of recent decisions. When coupled with the Sustainable Installations Regional Resource Assessment (SIRRA) model, mLEAM can dramatically enhance Joint Land Use Studies and provide installation managers with effective tools to adaptively and sustainably manage their ranges.

To access end-user products developed through this research, please visit the Ecosystem-Based Management section on the RC Tools and Training page.


This project developed an analytical and visually oriented methodology for determining where the threat of urban growth might negatively impact the military mission, how this threat will impact military operations, and possible strategies for mitigating these impacts. It marks an important step toward determining and analyzing the risks to the military and the conflicts that may arise from exogenous and endogenous land-use transformations. (Project Completed - 2006)