DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, UTAH – a project utilizing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to monitor golden eagle nests at Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) has won national recognition. The project was named the 2020 Resource Conservation and Resiliency Project of the Year by the Department of Defense’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP). The announcement was made last week during the program’s annual symposium.
Dugway Proving Ground is home to multiple breeding pairs of golden eagles, which are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Because of these regulations, military testing and training activities can be restricted if they risk disturbing active eagle nests. Therefore, it is vital for Dugway Proving Ground, and similar military testing and training ranges, to fully understand the location and status of eagle nests.
For the project, Dugway Proving Ground monitored its eagle nests utilizing and comparing three methods: an on-the-ground human observer, a military UAS and a small UAS (sUAS) platform. Researchers found the sUAS to be an extremely useful tool, able to quickly identify nests and take photographs to help determine the age of the eagles, which is an important criteria when deciding whether mission operations can safely continue. The results of the two-year study will be made available through a final technical report and a guidebook for range managers that will focus on the use of sUAS.
The project team included the DPG Natural Resource Office, Select Engineering Services, HawkWatch International, Army Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center, and the Army Threat Systems Management Office.
Dugway Proving Ground is responsible for testing and evaluating nearly all chemical and biological defense capabilities while conserving its natural resources. Dugway Proving Ground is demonstrating the two missions are compatible.
The ESTCP Program, established in 1995, promotes the transfer of innovative technologies that have successfully established proof of concept to field or production use. ESTCP demonstrations collect cost and performance data to overcome the barriers to employ an innovative technology because of concerns regarding technical or programmatic risk.