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NEWS | Sept. 18, 2019

Conservation law enforcement patrols, protects JBLE

By Senior Airman Delaney Gonzales 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Rivers, creeks and estuaries trace the landscape of Fort Eustis and it’s up to a select few to patrol the 27 miles worth of shoreline in order to protect the installation. 

“Fort Eustis is over 7,900 acres,” said Police Officer Sgt. Christopher Griffin, 733rd Security Forces Squadron Game Warden Section conservation law enforcement officer. “The post is surrounded by water--we are actually a peninsula.”

Due to the dense forested areas and the expansive waterways, some parts of the installation are difficult to access.

“We patrol through the post’s training areas to ensure no one is there without authorized access to that site and along the parameters [of the installation] where regular patrols have a hard time reaching,” said Police Officer Sgt. Bryan Sheehan, 733rd SFS Game Warden Section conservation law enforcement officer.

Unlike other career fields, conservation law enforcement officer’s duties are partially contingent upon the time of year.

“Depending on the season our routines vary, right now it’s mainly fishing--so my weekly operations would be checking the authorized and unauthorized fishing locations,” Sheehan explained.

With certain military activities posing a threat to those who trespass into unauthorized locations, the public’s safety becomes a top priority for the post’s conservation law enforcement officers.

 “A lot of people don’t understand that with being an active military installation that certain military operations occur,” Griffin stated. “Not only on the water, but also on the land. Just because you do not hear rifle fire, does not mean those ranges aren’t in use. If you have boats entering into the creeks and the streams [near Fort Eustis], they could easily be struck by an errant round.”

Considering the post’s long military history, other hazards present themselves in the form of military artifacts.

“This post was established in 1918,” Griffin remarked. “Originally the installation was a bombing range--unexploded ordnances can be found in certain areas on the post from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Relic hunters attempt to enter onto the installation to go to Civil War sites, colonial sites and Native American sites,” Griffin added. “They don’t understand the dangers of going into those areas. Also, the ordnances they try to collect have their own inherent dangers.”

The conservation law enforcement officers’ primary mission is to educate the base population about the rules and regulations regarding hunting, fishing and environmental laws.

“I would like the public to know the game wardens at Fort Eustis are here for you,” Griffin noted. “We are here for [your] education more than anything. We are not here to write people tickets, however that is a part of the education process if it comes to that. Although, we prefer you ask us any questions you may have before you get yourself into trouble.”

With the posts’ active hunting and fishing program, safety protocols are important to be aware of and to follow.

“On Fort Eustis we have deer, turkey, small game and water fowl hunting, which incorporates the use of various weapons such as bows and shotguns,” Sheehan said. “If someone was to access an area where active hunting is going on, especially a Soldier or Airman who is wearing camouflage, they may not be visible to the hunter, which creates a potentially dangerous situation.”

For more information about the conservation law enforcement program contact (757) 878-4557.

“Please ask to speak to one of the conservation law enforcement officers here at Fort Eustis and we would be happy to return your phone call,” Griffin concluded.