Last year, the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice stalled an agreement between the U.S. Forest Service and the Navy to use the Ocala National Forest as a bombing range. The coalition questioned the Navy's Environmental Impact Study draft, saying it underestimated the effects that 20,000 bombs dropped each year (only a few hundred are live) had on groundwater and wildlife.
While the final report conceded the bombs do contain cancer-causing elements, it said the Navy cleaned them up quickly enough to prevent damage. Thus, last week, the Forest Service granted the Navy another 20-year lease on the property. Forest Service Supervisor Marcia Kearney indirectly cited post-Sept. 11 military needs. That follows the Navy's recent announcement that it would spend $158 million to improve East Coast bombing ranges, including Ocala, to make up for the upcoming closure of the Vieques bombing range off Puerto Rico.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.