No war games: USAF plans for Tate’s Hell opposed

Col. Shawn Moore
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 02:27 PM.

An Air Force proposal to stage war games in Tate’s Hell State Forest, first approved last year by state officials, met with a resounding no from county residents last week.

More than 200 people from all walks of life attended the Aug. 29 meeting in Apalachicola’s community center at Battery Park, far more than attended either of the earlier scoping meetings last week in Milton and Blountstown.

The overwhelming majority agreed military exercises are not welcome in Franklin County. But it’s not yet clear how much of that will matter.

In October 2012, the Air Force signed an agreement with the state to use Florida Forest Service land, giving the go-ahead for the military to use about 400,000 acres in Tate’s Hell State Forest and in the Blackwater River State Forest near Eglin Air Force Base.

At Tuesday morning’s county commission meeting, Chairman Cheryl Sanders, who lives in Tate’s Hell, was chosen as spokesperson for future discussions on war games in the swamp. She asked the county to seek a public records disclosure on the project, which she said has been in the works since 2006.

“Somebody had to have known about this,” she said.

Sanders said she planned to bring the matter up at a Tate’s Hell liaison meeting with the Florida Division of Forestry yesterday.

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