ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - St. John Properties (SJP) will begin clearing 41.75 acres of Aberdeen Proving Ground's Enhanced Used Leasing (EUL) area for construction later this month.

Located just outside of the APG's Route 715 main gate, the acreage will be cleared of timber and marketed for what some hope will be a bustling retail space, complete with restaurants, a hotel, conference center and child care facility.

SJP obtained Army-approved, exclusive development rights for the 417 acres that make up the EUL area in 2009. Referred to as the GATE (Government and Technology Enterprise), the EUL area is leased by Aberdeen Proving Ground to SJP, which plans to develop the space into a retail and business park that will include 2 million square feet of office, lab, research and flex space, over the next 44 years.

"This is not a new project," said Nathan Osborne, Real Estate Division chief for APG's Directorate of Public Works (DPW). "This timber harvest is part of a comprehensive forest conservation plan, approved by APG and Maryland's Department of Natural Resources."

Osborne said like any commercial development, the project was subject to multiple public comments and forums to obtain community input. He also noted that statutory and regulatory guidelines govern the project, including APG's Forest Conservation Plan.

APG Forester Scott English said SJP paid the U.S. Treasury the fair market value for the timber--$45,000--which will go into the Army Forestry Account. APG uses money from that account to fund forest improvement projects for APG, the second largest forest owner in Maryland.

"We take environmental stewardship very seriously at APG, and our leadership recognized that while mission requirements may dictate forest removal, opportunities exist that enhance and sustain our forest resources," said English, who is also an environmental protection specialist with the installation's DPW.

He said APG's focus on the Army's triple bottom line--mission, environment and community--has resulted in numerous awards and honors, including the latest Army Award for APG's Installation Restoration program.

English said preserving the environment while simultaneously supporting APG organizations that support our nation's Warfighters is a delicate balance, but one that he and other environmental officials constantly strive to satisfy.

APG has spent more than $400,000, most of which comes from the Army Forestry Account, on forest resource management between Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012.

"Military installations around the U.S. are islands of biodiversity," said English, "and APG is a prime example of how natural resource managers can develop and sustain training landscapes that are necessary to support the installation's 96 tenant organizations, as well as future Army mission needs."

He said the installation's successful forest management activities have nurtured and sustained APG's thriving bald eagle population--one of the largest in the region.

English said over the last 95 years, the installation's forest cover has increased from 3,000 to more than 17,000 acres, including over 1,000 acres of forest planted by the Army.

"APG has treasured its forest resource for many years and continues to manage it in a way that supports current mission requirements while sustaining it into the future."

With SJP incorporating best management practices and green strategies, Osborne said the EUL project is a significant benefit to the APG community.

Page last updated Thu March 21st, 2013 at 14:56