Proposed Military Presence In Tate's Hell

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By Garin Flowers
August 29, 2013

Apalachicola, FL - Tate's Hell State Forest stands tall just north of the coast in Franklin County. It's a valued treasure in this area, partly why a meeting about it being used by the Air Force was packed Thursday night.

"We've got very critical area in Tate's Hell, it's one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the state of Florida," said Ron Harper, a local resident who attended the meeting.

Officials with the Pentagon and Air Force held a meeting in Apalachicola to discuss making Tate's Hell new grounds for several Eglin Air Force training operations.

Dozens of residents like Harper expressed concern.

"My long term fear is once they get a tow hold are they going to want more, are we going to have radar towers, are we going to have permanent structures," he said.

But, military officials said they hoped to ease their concerns with this meeting. As of now, they believe the operations would only require minor projects.

"Tate's Hell offers some special unique opportunities for us, because there's some abandoned logging roads that make really good runways for some of the small aircraft that we have that we want to be able to fly guys in and out of," said Mike Penland, chief of operational basing for the U.S. Air Force.

They also talked about their environmental impact statement - a procedure to study how their operations could affect nature in the area.

"We want to be good neighbors, we want to be good stewards, Eglin has a really good track record with the environment," Penland said.

The meeting was a first step and many of the attendees hope their voices will be heard.

By Garin Flowers
August 29, 2013

Apalachicola, FL - The Air Force has submitted a proposal to use portions of a Florida State forest as grounds for some military training operations.

A meeting is being held tonight in Apalachicola to hear from the public regarding the proposal the Air Force's request to utilize Tate's Hell State Forest for a number of different land and air training activities, and could also include establishing helicopter landing and drop zones, and airstrips.

WCTV is at the meeting and will bring you more information after the meeting.


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