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Franklin County resident Barrian Tury speaks “on behalf of the oystermen” in his 3 minutes of allotted time during the Public Comment Meeting held in Apalachicola, Florida on June 4th concerning the GRASI (Gulf Regional Airspace Initiative) Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The U.S. Air Force proposes use of Tate’s Hell Swamp, a 200,000+ acre State Forest in Franklin and Liberty Counties, for airspace and ground Troop Training. This huge land tract, which ultimately drains into Apalachicola Bay, was purchased by taxpayers beginning in 1994 for the purposes of hydrological and ecological restoration and public recreation and is now managed by the Florida Forest Service.
In 2012, after a long period of drought, a National Fisheries Failure was declared for Apalachicola Bay, primarily because of a collapse in the famous oyster harvest there. The Bay is now hopefully, on a slow road to recovery, as a significant portion of the economy of Franklin County depends upon its healthy ecological function.
Oyster harvester Turey also addresses the issues of noise and potential hydrocarbon pollution in his remarks, especially in respect to the inevitable impact of that disturbance, as well as toxins, on the bald eagles which nest in Tate’s Hell State Forest. There were no representatives of Audubon that spoke at either the Apalachicola or Carrabelle meetings, even though Florida Audubon facilitated the purchase of nearby Lanark Reef, a famously productive shorebird breeding area just south of Tate’s Hell State Forest.
Residents of this area already have gotten a taste of airspace tactical training from the Emerald Warrior Tactical training that Franklin County has allowed, with mixed success, to be carried out on private land in the County for the past two years. There were numerous complaints by residents near Apalachicola airport, and also, in Carrabelle and Eastpoint.
Written comments to be considered for the final EIS may be submitted by June 23rd, 2014 to the following contact:
Mr. Mike Spaits, Eglin AFB Public Affairs Office, 96TW/PA, 101 West D Ave., Room 238, Eglin AFB, FL 32542-5499; (850) 882-2836; [email protected]
Video Footage of the entire Air Force Presentation and Public Comments made in Carrabelle (June 3rd) and Apalachicola (June 4th) may be found on The Half Shell Channel at this link:
Serge LaTour’s March 19th, 2014 video of CV 22 (OSPREY) Aircraft training low over Pine Log Creek and Crooked River in Tate’s Hell, may be found on the Half Shell here: