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Eglin Air Force Base announces increased fines for ‘Closed Test Area’ beach trespassers

Following the recent announcement of increased patrols to enforce trespass violations on the Santa Rosa Island Closed Test Area, Eglin Air Force Base has now raised the fines for unauthorized […]

Following the recent announcement of increased patrols to enforce trespass violations on the Santa Rosa Island Closed Test Area, Eglin Air Force Base has now raised the fines for unauthorized entry into the restricted area.

  • As of May 31, 2024, the minimum fine for a first-time trespassing offense has been increased from $65 to $250.

The decision to modify the fines was made by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida Pensacola Division, which oversees violations of laws and regulations enforced by the U.S. within the boundaries of Eglin AFB.

The 96th Security Forces Squadron will continue to issue citations to trespassers at the site, and individuals caught trespassing must either appear before a U.S. magistrate judge or, if eligible, pay the $250 fine.

Due to military testing and training on the Eglin reservation, the beach on Santa Rosa Island from Fort Walton Beach to Navarre Beach is closed to all public access. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

In the previous announcement, Maj. Andrew McFee, 96th SFS commander, emphasized the safety risks associated with entering the closed test area, stating, “It’s not safe for people to ignore the signs and barriers put in place to keep them out of the closed test area. People put themselves at risk every time they walk past a ‘no trespass’ sign. This area is an active test range with all the associated hazards.”

The Santa Rosa Island Closed Test Area, which extends from the El Matador Condominiums in Fort Walton Beach to Navarre Beach, is clearly marked with “NO ADMITTANCE” signage and barriers.

  • Trespassers not only put themselves in danger but also risk damaging the fragile habitats that are home to various endangered plant and animal species, according to Eglin officials.

Eric Sculthorpe, 96th Civil Engineer Group Environmental Management branch chief, previously highlighted the efforts of Eglin’s natural resources office to protect the environment in the closed test areas. The increased fines serve as a further deterrent to unauthorized entry and aim to preserve the sensitive ecosystems found on Santa Rosa Island.

For more information about the trespassing fines and enforcement, the public is encouraged to contact Eglin public affairs at 882-3931.

2 Responses

  1. People I know who live on the Island and my self have never seen “testing” going on for the first 1/2 mile or so past the El Matador. Back in the day if there was testing a guard was posted to stop people from entering. Also Jackson Guard does a great job between Ft. Walton and Destin to protect the dunes so the statement that this closure is to protect the natural habitat falls on deaf ears. Eglin has taken away a valuable beach resource from the locals whilst locals are crowded out of the beaches by an overflow of tourists. Yes we can go out to Matterhorn or Princess but trying to get back to Ft. Walton from there is perilous to say the least. A solution is to issue permits as Eglin does between Ft. Walton and Destin and let the locals have some breathing room.

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