By Deborah Nelson
A proposal to exchange Navy outlying landing field (OLF) 8 in Beulah for a site in Santa Rosa poses no significant environmental impact, according to a draft Navy environmental assessment.
The current 640-acre OLF 8 site is located between I-10 and Nine Mile Road, next to Navy Federal Credit Union’s 300 acre complex. The proposed new site is a 601 acre property in north west Santa Rosa County. Escambia County bought the Santa Rosa site in December 2013 to “develop the property with improvements that are acceptable to the Navy and suitable for use as a NOLF to replace [OLF 8],” per the draft report.
The Navy wants to relocate OLF 8 because surrounding development is encroaching on it; because at 22 miles out, OLF 8 “is the furthest and least‐used rotary wing 6 NOLF at NAS Whiting Field;” and because the new facility would allow simultaneous “mixed-use” night vision device and unaided training that is currently impossible at other sites.
OLF 8 hosts training for TH-57 Sea Ranger landing, refueling and basic initial helicopter instruction. It saw 59,860 flights in 2015. That’s 36% of its 163,406 flight capacity in 2011, per the report.
Escambia officials and developers have expressed interest in developing a commerce park on the current OLF 8 site.
The December 2016 study looked at Air Quality, Water Resources, Geological Resources, Cultural Resources, Biological Resources, Land Use, Visual Resources, Airspace, Noise, Infrastructure, Transportation, Public Health and Safety, Hazardous Materials and Wastes, Socioeconomics, and Environmental Justice.
The Navy will take comments on the draft report until February 14.
Written comments must be emailed or postmarked by February 14, and may be submitted via email at email@example.com or mailed to: Department of the Navy, NAVFAC SE, P.O. Box 30 (Bldg 903), NAS Jacksonville FL 32212-0030 Attn: Royce Kemp, EV 21.
View the draft report HERE
Article modified to clarify that the proposed Santa Rosa property will be developed with improvements that are acceptable to the Navy and suitable for use as a NOLF to replace OLF 8.