ASTOR -- The Navy's use of the Pinecastle Bombing Range in the Ocala National Forest will continue for at least the next 20 years, the U.S. Forest Service announced Monday.
Forest Service Supervisor Marsha Kearney said the agreement will be renewed because Navy pilots need a place to practice and because the bombing causes little, if any, environmental damage.
"Pinecastle Range will continue to play a role in ensuring our nation's military remains at a high state of readiness," Kearney said. "In light of recent world events, that level of readiness is certainly needed."
The range has operated on the 5,800-acre site since 1951 and is the Navy's only live-ordnance range on the East Coast. But the public protested a proposed renewal of the Navy's agreement in 2001, voicing concerns about noise and pollution. Halting or trying to move the training exercises would affect the readiness of the Navy to perform its mission, Kearney wrote in a report on her decision, released Monday. And establishing a new range would require impacts to a pristine area elsewhere.