U.S. Secretary of the Interior weighs in on Tyndall’s land for lease

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 5:50 PM CDT
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Tyndall Air Force Base is leasing 3,400 acres of underutilized land.

“What I think we have going on there is a great collaboration between the military and the Department of the Interior doing some very creative conservation work,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt during his visit to the panhandle Wednesday. “A lot of what we do is partnering- partnering with the state, wildlife officials… to try and get the maximum we can for conservation while allowing those activities that they are responsible for to thrive as well.”

Bernhardt said the department has worked hard to ensure public land stays in the public’s hands, “but most importantly we want to ensure that there’s public access for those lands so those lands can be utilized for recreation, for solace, for enjoyment.” He said by this fall, the department will have expanded outreach to 4.3 million additional acres nationally for fish and wildlife services.

“It really disturbed me that they wanted to take that pristine land that we have out there and open it up for private development,” said Panama City resident Thomas Cook who started an online petition against the possible development. “I think it needs to stay either a piece of property that all the citizens of the united states can enjoy or it needs to stay just like it is and just leave it vacant and leave it a natural preserve area.”

Tyndall officials say the goal for the land is to create mutually beneficial projects for both the base and the public or private entity. As of now no decision has been made, but Tyndall will seek input from the community before doing so.

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