DEP, Air Force Come to Land-Use Agreement - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

DEP, Air Force Come to Land-Use Agreement

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Air Force signed an agreement Monday, permitting the Air Force to use state-owned land in Northwest Florida to further its training missions.  A presentation about the agreement was made today to Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet.

"This agreement is another step in making Florida the most military-friendly state in the nation," said Governor Scott. "Not only will this decision strengthen our nation's security, but it will support our military communities that provide jobs for Florida families."

"Partnerships like these between the U.S. Air Force and the State of Florida enhance Northwest Florida's ability to support our military men and women of our communities who play such a vital role in the safety and security of our nation while at the same time invigorating Northwest Florida's economy," said Florida Senate President Don Gaetz.

"The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is pleased to support the U.S. Air Force by offering state land for use in training missions so the men and women serving in Northwest Florida can continue to protect our country," said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. "This agreement allows Florida's state land to be used for conservation of our natural resources and support the local economy by keeping a strong and well-trained military presence in Northwest Florida."

As part of the Gulf Regional Airspace Strategic Initiative, the Department's Division of State Lands, Florida Park Service and Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas will allow the Air Force to deploy non-hazardous, no-impact military communications equipment on state lands.

Within 60 days, the Department and Air Force will create a plan where the communications equipment, known as threat emitters, can be deployed on state-owned land. The purpose of the Air Force initiative is to provide neutral or positive economic impact to the region, foster collaboration between the military and civilians and provide training and military missions throughout the region- and this agreement aids that mission. No live ammunition will be fired on state land as a result of this agreement.

"Working in collaboration with the state and conservation community during the GRASI process, together we created a model civilian-military partnership, which the Air Force plans to use across the country," said Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics. "It clearly demonstrates we can both preserve conservation lands and support compatible military missions vital to the national security of the United States. This is a win-win for the entire community."