The Naval Academy Golf Association wants to lease undeveloped land from the U.S. Navy at Greenbury Point to expand their existing golf course, but there’d be a lot obstacles to overcome, including the Sikes Act.
Greenbury Point, which is located on Naval Support Activity Annapolis, is a popular spot for for passive recreational activities, such as walking, birding, fishing and enjoying nature.
Anyone can go to Greenbury Point and enjoy the expansive waterfront property as long as the firing rang isn’t in use.
The reason anyone can use the property is specifically because of the Sikes Act, which was enacted in 1960 to protect Department of Defense land for conservation and open it for use by the public.
According to the Department of Defense, “In its original form, the Sikes Act mainly addressed public access to military lands for hunting and fishing activities. Over the years the act has been significantly strengthened, and its scope expanded, to the point that it now represents a comprehensive law mandating the conservation of all aspects of natural resources on military lands.”
The Navy’s brochure about Greenbury Point states, “Greenbury point is currently managed as a mission-supportive natural resources conservation area. It provides a protective
overshot range and an open land area periodically used for midshipmen training. Greenbury point is also managed to restore and enhance its natural resources as required by the Sikes Act.”
The Sikes Act states:
“(c) PROHIBITIONS ON SALE AND LEASE OF LANDS UNLESS EFFECTS COMPATIBLE WITH PLAN.—After an integrated natural resources management plan is agreed to under subsection (a)—
(1) no sale of land, or forest products from land, that is
within a military installation covered by that plan may be
made under section 2665 (a) or (b) of title 10, United States
(2) no leasing of land that is within the installation may
be made under section 2667 of such title 10;
unless the effects of that sale or leasing are compatible with the
purposes of the plan.
(d) IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF INTEGRATED NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PLANS.—With regard to the implementation and enforcement of integrated natural resources management plans agreed to under subsection (a)—
(1) neither Office of Management and Budget Circular A–
76 nor any successor circular thereto applies to the procurement of services that are necessary for that implementation and enforcement; and (2) priority shall be given to the entering into of contracts for the procurement of such implementation and enforcement
services with Federal and State agencies having responsibility for the conservation or management of fish or wildlife.”
A DOD website states:
“The most significant set of amendments to the Sikes Act, collectively known as the Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997, was enacted with the strong support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (representing state fish and game agencies). Major provisions of the Sikes Act Improvement Act of 1997 include:
- There is a mandatory requirement for all DoD installations with natural resources to prepare a comprehensive Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP).
- The INRMP must be prepared in cooperation with FWS and the pertinent state fish and game agency.
- Public comment is required on the INRMP.
- The INRMP must be implemented.”
In other words, the Sikes Act prohibits lease of lands unless the proposed use is compatible with the INRP.
A copy of the latest INRP for Naval Support Activity Annapolis has been requested.
Greenbury Point, because it is undeveloped, offers a great deal of diversity in plants and wildlife.
Members of the public have voiced a lot of concerns about the possible expansion of the golf course, including some who’ve questioned the use of chemicals to maintain courses – not an uncommon practice.
“I share the concerns about fertilizer and pesticide use on golf courses,” said Jesse Iliff, executive director of the Severn River Association. “Golf courses are one of the most intensive land uses there are. And that is for the duration of their life – but the immediate impact, when they are graded out, would be intensive as well. Whatever project goes there is going to require a full-blown environmental impact statement – the National Environmental Policy Act requires an environmental impact statement. It’s not a fly-by-night, bulldozer shows up and the golf carts are there.”
As for the public outcry about possibility of a golf expansion, Iliff said, ” I’m glad to see that citizen engagement and that concern flourishing in the community. When I’ve been talking to people individually about this I tell them, don’t worry – this is not going to show up on your doorstep all of a sudden. We, the Severn River Association, will be publicizing it and people can reach out to me. “
The Naval Academy golf course is membership only – the website has no information about eligibility or costs. A 2013 membership application is linked, but fees and/or eligibility are likely outdated.
The Naval Academy Golf Association has not returned messages.
There are golf courses on other DOD-owned properties, including at Joint Base Andrews.
According to the Naval Academy Athletic Association, “There will be a meeting to share the Naval Academy Golf Association Greenbury Point concepts with the neighboring communities on Tuesday evening. This will allow NAGA to present their very preliminary and exploratory concepts and explain the road ahead. The meeting will take place at 7pm in the indoor golf facility at the Brigade Sports Complex. Guests will be instructed to enter through the NAGA Pro Shop. The meeting information will be sent to the Providence and Pendennis Mount communities.”
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Update (4;10 pm – May 6, 2022) – According to the Naval Academy Athletic Association, the meeting on Tuesday (May 10) has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
Donna L. Cole is an award-winning multimedia and investigative reporter. She’s also a wildlife photographer and bird of prey rescuer – she’s done both at Greenbury Point.