FORT BRAGG

FORT BRAGG

Five sharp yellow petals burst from a bud of a rough-leafed loosestrife, one of several federally endangered plants found in the Sandhills of North Carolina. More specifically, the sunny plant grows throughout the Ft. Bragg U.S. Army base — the largest military installation in the world with more than 50,000 active duty personnel — which helps protect them and many other “species at risk” including the Georgia indigo bush, sandhills milkvetch and sandhills lily. Throughout the year, routine live ammunition work causes small wildfires that help sustain these plants. Without these burns, some species may have disappeared decades ago.

The base’s conservation efforts are a national model for other military installations, and it not only protects rare and endangered plants but animals as well, including the Saint Francis satyr butterfly and the red-cockaded woodpecker. These are just a few of many cool facts about Ft. Bragg.

Spanning 163,000 acres and touching six adjacent counties, Ft. Bragg is the size of a small city. It oversees eight elementary schools, an intermediate school for fifth and sixth grade, and a junior high school for seventh through ninth grades. It has two commissaries, classes and resilience training programs through Army Community Services, more than 30 restaurants, and dozens of medical clinics, churches and fitness facilities.

There are also plenty of options for housing both on and off base. For people who choose to live on-post at Ft. Bragg, Corvias Military Living is the main leasing agent. Those who live off-post will most likely have a commute, which can be anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes in length. In Fayetteville — the closest nearby city to base with a population of approximately 210,000 people — the median home cost is $135,000, while Southern Pines, a favorite of military families that sits about 40 miles northwest, is quite a bit pricier with an average home cost of $268,000.

One of the largest industries in Fayetteville is manufacturing, specifically for power tools, tires and automotive products. Other major employment sectors include educational services, health care, accommodation and food services, construction, social assistance and the government. As far as the civilian population goes, about 27 percent work in sales and office jobs; 19 percent in professional careers; 17 percent in production, transportation and material moving; and 10 percent in management, business and financial operations.

The Cumberland County Board of Education, Department of Defense, Cape Fear Valley Health Systems, Walmart, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and Cumberland County are the top employers for the Fayetteville region. Approximately 24 percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is about $44,500.

In Moore County — one of the many that Ft. Bragg resides within — more than two-thirds of the local workforce are employed by three major industries: health care, tourism and hospitality, and retail. Upward of 8,800 people work within the health care industry, comprised of major organizations like FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, St. Joseph of the Pines and Pinehurst Surgical. Former military personnel own and operate many of the local businesses there, including K2 Solutions, Far Ridgeline Engagements and Spiritus Systems.

In May, don’t miss the annual Fort Bragg Fair. Open to the public and in operation since 1979, the event includes unlimited carnival rides, live entertainment and classic fair food from funnel cakes to fried pickles.      Ft. Bragg’s food scene extends way beyond fair fare. It is an international delight, with restaurants spanning multiple ethnicities from German to Thai to Middle Eastern. Savor the flavors of the Mediterranean at Pharoah’s Village. Try the kosharri, which includes rice, lentils and pasta topped with garlic tomato sauce, garbanzo beans and crispy fried onions. Or grab a bowl of Ramen at Umami. The Japanese restaurant also makes excellent sushi including a honey salmon roll and chicken teriyaki roll.