EGLIN AFB, Fla. (WKRG) — Eglin Air Force Base is increasing patrol of military-owned beach property in Okaloosa County.
The training base said more people have been populating the closed training areas and beach accesses without permits.
“Despite the abundance of warning signs in place instructing beachgoers to stay out of Air Force Closed Areas, we are seeing an unacceptable level of trespassers ignoring the signage and causing mission impacts and damaging fragile habitat critical to many species,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Geraghty, 96th Test Wing commander.
Geraghty said the closed test areas on Santa Rosa Island that stretch west of the El Matador Condominiums all the way to Navarre Beach, have become an easy target for trespassers.
The areas are used for hazardous training and military operations, making trespassing a safety concern.
“We are host to many hazardous activities that include training missions conducted by Air Force Special Operations Command, the U.S. Army’s 6th Ranger Training Battalion and 7th Special Forces Group, as well as operators from every branch of service,” said Geraghty.
Geraghty said the base has increased signs and barriers on the beaches.
“Due to unauthorized activities, and to preserve and protect this national asset on the Eglin reservation, our team has installed barriers and additional signage on the east and west sides of Eglin’s Santa Rosa Island Closed Areas to further discourage trespassing,” said Geraghty. “Additionally, our security forces will increase patrols in these areas and will begin issuing trespass citations to those who continue to violate our Closed Test Areas.”
Eglin Security Forces will work with local and state law enforcement to monitor the Santa Rosa Sound and cite individuals or boaters who are beaching and trespassing on the north side of the island.
The base offers four beach areas free to visitors with a permit.
- Eglin Beach Club (for DoD card holders)
- The Matterhorn
- Princess Beach
- The old Airman’s Beach Club
To request a free permit, go online.
Geraghty said they will continue to find ways to keep the areas safe for testing missions going forward.
As we determine these solutions, we will communicate them with the community to avoid any confusion in the future,” said Geraghty. “I appreciate your cooperation ensuring the safety of our community while protecting the vital national security missions we execute on Eglin Air Force Base and the Eglin reservation.”