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.
This is Wildfire Awareness Week in Florida, during a time of the year when firefighters are working to minimize risk to homes, businesses and residents. So far this year, more than 500 wildfires have blackened about 9,000 acres statewide.
Wildfires generally occur in the spring and early summer months due to a lack of rainfall, low humidity and strong winds combined with increased yard burns. There have been 61 blazes in the Blackwater District of the Florida Forest Service – which covers Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties – that have burned just over 3,200 acres.
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.