Bombing Range Is National Example for Wildlife Conservation

Walking through a wildlife underpass from Nokuse Plantation to Eglin Air Force base feels like traveling back in time.

On the one side is Nokuse: a 54,000-acre private conservation property and site of the largest private longleaf pine restoration project in the world. While there are eight million newly planted longleaf pine trees here, they are mere saplings (only ten years old), so it requires some knowledge and imagination to envision what this place will be like in a few more decades.

Joe Guthrie explores some of the 250,000 acres of Eglin Air Force Base that are open for public recreation. Here he hikes one of the more popular segments of the Florida National Scenic Trail which traverses the north portion of the base. (Photo by Carlton Ward Jr.)

Entering Eglin Air Force Base to the west paints a different picture. It is like stepping 200 years into the past, or from the perspective of Nokuse, fast-forwarding 200 years into the future.

Elgin feels ancient. As the Florida Trail climbs out of creek bottom ravines to sandy rises, we are surrounded by the oldest trees we’ve encountered on our entire 1,000-mile Florida Wildlife Corridor expedition. It’s likely there are 300-year-old trees in sight. The Air Force Base is home to the last remaining old-growth longleaf pines in Florida. In the natural resources visitor center, there is a cross section from a 500-year-old tree found on Eglin.

Air Force Special Tactics training, Eglin Air Force Base. Photo by Carlton Ward Jr.
A U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight carries U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Airmen of the Special Tactics Training Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, to Gator Lake at Eglin Air Force Base to execute water helocasting. This alternate insertion and extraction training is applied —> Read More

Protesters Block Construction Of Thirty Meter Telescope On Hawaiian Volcano

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Protesters blocked a road this week as part of a push to prevent construction of a giant telescope near the top of a mountain held sacred by Native Hawaiians.

More than 50 protesters formed a roadblock Monday that stopped about 15 vehicles carrying workers up Mauna Kea on the Big Island, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspaper in Hilo reported ( http://ow.ly/L2He7 ). Some see the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project as desecrating the peak.

The protesters marched back and forth across the road outside the Mauna Kea visitor center as contemporary and traditional Hawaiian music played.

Telescope Project Manager Gary Sanders said workers waited for more than eight hours at the roadblock before heading back down the mountain.

“Our access via a public road has been blocked by protesters, and we have patiently waited for law enforcement to allow our workers the access to which they are entitled,” he said in a statement.

Police looked on, but took no action against the demonstrators. Hawaii County police Capt. Richard Sherlock said the department’s focus was ensuring safety.

“Our stance is not against the science,” said Lanakila Mangauil, 27, of Honokaa. “It’s not against the (telescope) itself. It’s against their choice of place.”

Astronomers say Mauna Kea is the ideal location for observing the most distant and difficult to understand mysteries of the universe.

The telescope is expected to create 300 full-time construction jobs and 120 to 140 permanent jobs. Opponents say the jobs don’t justify more development on Mauna Kea.

Protesters said they have maintained a nearly round-the-clock presence outside the visitor center since last week after construction equipment arrived.

They also disrupted a groundbreaking ceremony at the site in October.

Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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