• Wildlife Biologist (Management)
• Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division, Natural Resources Management Branch
• Joined the Department of Defense on 10 November 1972 as a Wildlife Biologist in the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Office, Fort Hood Fish and Wildlife Section, Facilities Engineers. He assumed his duties as Branch Chief in November 1986, and retired effective 3 January 2005.
Mr. Herbert, as Branch Chief of the Natural Resources Management Branch, had responsibility for guiding the use, conservation, and protection of natural resources on Fort Hood, with a land size over 218,000 acres. He oversaw a 7-person staff with education, training and experience in a variety of natural resources-related topics. He also provided guidance and supervision to a full-time research assistant, an outreach coordinator, and two heavy equipment operators assigned to the branch through a cooperative agreement with Tarleton State University.
GENERAL AWARDS AND SERVICES
Dennis Herbert was recognized in the FY 2003 Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards competition by placing first runner-up in the individual award category. This well-deserved honor led to his designation as a Hood Hero.
Dennis received recognition as Host Chairman of the 2002 National Military Fish and Wildlife Association (NMFWA) annual meeting, held in Dallas, TX, April 1-6, 2002. The primary goal of the committee that he chaired was to develop and coordinate all physical aspects of the 2002 NMFWA Annual Meeting and Training Workshop that was held at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion in Dallas, TX, 1-6 April 2002. He succeeded in developing a meeting that NMFWA members, presenters, and guests all found most enjoyable, well-coordinated, interesting with bits of local color, and for the least cost to the Association.
In 2004 Dennis was further honored in 2004 by NMFWA by being presented its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2006, Mr. Herbert was inducted into the Fort Hood Garrison Hall of Fame, becoming the first Natural Resources Manager bestowed that honor. The high respect in which Dennis has been held is also manifested by him being asked to contribute a chapter on natural resources on military lands in Texas (Texas Wildlife Resources and Land Uses, Edited by Raymond Telfair II, UT Press, Chapter 26, U.S. Department of Defense (Abstract if needed), April 1999).
Other awards and recognitions are detailed below.
A survey of military fish and wildlife professionals in 1977 identified inadequate wildlife law enforcement as the number one conservation issue on installations. Reflecting this concern, NMFWA’s first resolution, sent to the Secretary of Defense in 1983, identified the need for and supported professional wildlife enforcement officers on DoD installations.
However, it simply wasn’t a major issue on Fort Hood… not even in 1977! Why? Because Dennis Herbert was years ahead of the wildlife enforcement mission need. He was one of the first wildlife enforcement officers in Defense, having been originally hired with major duties as an enforcement officer in 1972, working closely with the Fort Hood Provost Marshal Office.
Even though his organization evolved into a Branch within the Engineer Directorate about 1990, he retained his enforcement duties for about 25 years. Dennis Herbert was commissioned and carrying a sidearm well before most of the rest of Defense fish and wildlife professionals even recognized the need for professional wildlife law enforcement, or for that matter even existed on most installations. Dennis exemplified the concept of a wildlife professional with significant enforcement duties.
Mr. Herbert worked diligently and successfully to integrate conservation of training lands and wildlife habitat, protection of endangered species, livestock grazing, and outdoor recreation with the military training mission through development and implementation of the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) for Fort Hood. The Plan was developed in cooperation with installation staff, federal and state government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The primary goal of the INRMP was to reverse declines in herbaceous vegetation and water quality and increases in erosion and sedimentation caused by heavy maneuver training and overgrazing of the most frequently used training areas.
Fort Hood has the largest breeding populations under single landowner/management of two endangered songbirds, the Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Due to Dennis’ enthusiastic and strong leadership of the post’s endangered species program, Fort Hood is the only facility to meet and clearly exceed regional recovery goals (500-1,000) for both species. The American Bird Conservancy included Fort Hood among the 500 most important bird areas in the United States, and Partners in Flight (PIF) honored the installation in 2001 for outstanding contributions to bird conversation by presenting the Group Investigations Award for that year. Fort Hood’s 2005 Biological Opinion from USFWS reduced endangered-species-specific training limitations to 4.7% of available training lands, and remaining habitat under seasonal protection is either in areas already limited to training (outdoor recreation areas) or in areas with terrain that is not conducive to maneuver training.
Fort Hood’s fishing and hunting programs provide an estimated 60,000 angler-days and 17,000 hunter-days annually. Mr. Herbert’s progressive deer management practices led to steady improvement in body weight and antler mass. After he succeeded in closing western training areas to deer hunting for three years, hunters in 2000-01 brought in 72 bucks weighing over 100 pounds, versus about 30 harvested in most years. Nine of these placed in the Texas Wildlife
Association’s annual big buck competition, compared to an average of one buck per year in previous seasons, and subsequent years have continued to produce award-winning deer.
Dennis Herbert has brought about many changes in the Natural Resources Management Branch, such as the hunting program, a cave gating program. pigeon trapping, and field trips led by Branch personnel to instruct and inform other state, federal, and private agencies. With his dedication to conserving natural resources, his Branch has come to the forefront in the news. The Branch has received two awards: The Landowner Stewardship Award and The Nature Conservancy President's Conservation Achievement Award.
The Texas Organization for Endangered Species, a scientific organization which, as its name implies, compiles data on rare and endangered species to evaluate status and trends, publishes "watch lists' of declining species. The Nature Conservancy awarded the Fort Hood Endangered Species Management Program its President's Conservation Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed by the Conservancy. The award focuses special attention on the 1997 formalization of a 5-year partnership agreement between Fort Hood and The Nature Conservancy of Texas, citing the cooperative effort as a landmark accomplishment in the conservation of biodiversity and protection of endangered species.
Dennis strove to advance community relations by gaining designation of two undeveloped parcels within the cantonment area as “urban natural and cultural areas” to promote the observation, study, and appreciation of nature by Fort Hood families and members of the civilian community. In August 2001 the Dennis entered into a classic “win-win” agreement with the DPW Plans and Projects Division, Corps of Engineers Central Texas Area Office, and Hansel Phelps, a contractor constructing a new railhead nearby. More than 80,000 cubic yards of construction spoil were used to reclaim scarred sites to create grasslands and one wetland, at no cost. Mr. Herbert stressed that Fort Hood’s natural resources compliance program included partnerships with regulatory agencies and direct enforcement. Fort Hood has partnered with USFWS to develop policies and procedures that protect endangered species and their habitat while allowing training and other mission-related activities to continue.
As a direct result of Dennis Herbert’s dedication, expertise, and innovation Fort Hood Garrison is acknowledged and recognized as a national leader in the management of its natural resources. His support of NMFWA, particularly during the challenging early years, was important to the Association getting a strong foothold in the national conservation arena. He was honored by NMFWA in 2004 with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dennis has remained active in conservation since his retirement. His company, Conservation One Wildlife and Land Management Services, Inc. has the following mission statement, “We are a company of wildlife biologists and land management specialists that are available to help rural landowners protect and enhance their greatest asset, their land, as well as help them take advantage of tax incentives for doing so. Conservation One’s primary services include the production of customized wildlife management plans from simple oral advice all the way up to extensive plans to convert our client's Agriculture exemption to a wildlife management exemption, land and wildlife management services, the sale and installation of associated products, and custom property/ranch mapping.”
Dennis Herbert characterizes the very best of an installation natural resources professional. He helped our unique challenges within the profession grow and become recognized as important in terms of Department of Defense natural resources conservation and law enforcement during his 33 years at Fort Hood. Times were very challenging when Dennis stepped into the role of taking care of natural resources on a military reservation in 1972. Today’s nationally recognized Fort Hood natural resources program reflects the significance of Dennis Herbert’s pioneering efforts.