Blackwater River State Forest

Western Gate Chapter, FTA

Two centuries after Andrew Jackson’s march into northwest Florida, a local historical group plans to re-trace his steps next weekend.

Jackson’s march through the Panhandle in May of 1818, near the end of the First Seminole War, is now the 17-mile Andrew Jackson Red Ground Trail in the Blackwater River State Forest.

“There had been numerous skirmishes that were along the border of Alabama, Georgia and Florida between Indians and the settlers,” said Helen Wigersma, who chairs the Western Gate Chapter of the Florida Trail Association.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

About 180 area residents, concerned about the possibility of increased military training in the Blackwater River State Forest, filled the Bagdad Recreational Facility in Santa Rosa County Thursday night for the final public hearing on the Air Force plan.

Florida Forest Service

The Air Force is holding a series of public hearings this week to provide information and receive public comment regarding plans for additional military training in the Blackwater River and Tate’s Hell State Forests in Northwest Florida. The final hearing will be held this Thursday evening (June 6) at the Santa Rosa County Recreational Facility in Bagdad. 

Let’s review. The Air Force held so-called “scoping” meetings in August of last year, followed by town hall meetings in Milton and Apalachicola in December of 2013.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The Air Force hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Milton Community Center in Santa Rosa County to discuss proposed plans for military training in the Blackwater River State Forest.

The Air Force is hosting two public town hall meetings this week to discuss proposed plans for military training in the Blackwater River and Tate’s Hell State Forests.  The first town hall to be held Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Milton Community Center will focus on the Blackwater River State Forest.

“Well, we want to make sure the public has a good understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Mike Spaits, Environmental Public Affairs Officer for Eglin Air Force Base.