The Navy will be providing a boost to the environment and land in Monmouth County by creating an increased buffer zone around Naval Weapons Station Earle after signing an agreement with The County of Monmouth and the Monmouth County Conservation Foundation (MCF) that will allow them to pursue the preservation of lands in the vicinity of the base.

“The Navy is willing to contribute federal funds of more than $700,000 to assist with this land protection initiative,” Freeholder Director Tom Arnone said. “We share with them a desire to protect their mission while also meeting environmental goals and preserving Monmouth County farmlands and open space whenever possible.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) created the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program in response to the development of lands and loss of habitat in the vicinity of installations.

Through this program the DOD will work with state and local governments, conservation organizations and willing-private landowners to address these challenges to the military mission.

Prior to the deal, the REPI Programs were implemented in New Jersey at both Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Warren Grove Range.

NWS Earle’s main base encompasses approximately 10,000 acres, bordering the townships of Colts Neck, Howell, Wall and the Borough of Tinton Falls and its waterfront facility is located 14 miles away in the Leonardo section of Middletown Township on the Sandy Hook Bay.

"This REPI program is just another example of our excellent partnership with Monmouth County,” Capt. Pierre Fuller, NWS Earle commanding officer said. “Through this agreement, we are stemming future encroachment along the Navy's fence line, while simultaneously serving the interests of the people of Monmouth County."

In Monmouth County, parties will work together to identify properties that may be of interest to purchase or acquire an easement for development rights and go through a series of procedures to obtain the necessary approvals.

Participation must have the voluntary consent of the landowners, with no use of eminent domain practices.

“This is a win-win agreement,” Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry said. “The citizens of Monmouth County will potentially have more lands protected from burgeoning development, which will also help our water supplies and wildlife conservation, and Naval Weapons Station Earle will have a wider buffer that will protect their work without putting additional burdens on our citizenry.”

More From The Jersey Shore: