Over 400-Acres Protected in Santa Rosa County

Today, Trust for Public Land and our partners Santa Rosa County and the Department of the Navy, has announced the protection of 429 acres of natural lands, including a 40-acre lake as buffer lands to the NAS Whiting Field and offering new public access to outdoor recreational opportunity.

The conservation of this property, Clear Creek, will also promote climate resiliency through the conservation of the natural carbon-based resources and restoration of the climate change resilient longleaf pine habitat and ensure NAS Whiting Field operations can continue. The county will convey a conservation easement to the NAS Whiting Field.

“As coastal Florida continues to develop rapidly, conserving our natural land and water for recreation also bolsters climate resiliency and protects people and property,” said Doug Hattaway, Southeast Region Conservation Director for Trust for Public Land. “TPL applauds the leadership of the Santa Rosa County Commission and NAS Whiting and pleased to be a broader multi-partner initiative to provide more nature-based outdoor recreational opportunities, access to waterways, military base buffering, and longleaf pine habitat restoration with conservation projects like Clear Creek.”

The land will become available for public passive recreational uses and managed by the County with the assistance of the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership. Restoration of longleaf pine forest habitat is also planned.

“We’re building a strong partnership between our community and the military, making sure we keep out developments that don’t fit, while opening up great opportunities for recreation and nature,” said Commissioner James Calkins, Vice-Chairman and District 3. “This project is a big win for everyone in our community and for our military partners.”

“The project and its effort provides for an easement to protect against incompatible development while also offering an opportunity for a strategic benefit in recreation and conservation. A win-win in community-military partnering across the board,” said Community Planning & Liaison Officer, Randy Roy.

“The partnership between Santa Rosa County and the Trust for Public Land as well as NAS Whiting Field has been fantastic for our community,” said Commissioner Parker, Chairman and District 1. “This acquisition of over 400 acres of land that will remain in conservation helps ensure that we have plenty of protected land in Santa Rosa County that cannot be developed in the future.”

Longleaf pine forests once dominated southern forest habitat from Texas to Virginia. Extraordinarily resilient against harsh elements like hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires, these forests thrive in today’s changing climate. But with decades of unsustainable logging practices and development, they now are one of the most threatened natural systems in the world, with only 5 percent of the historical southern range still standing today.

Trust for Public Land has worked for years to adding land to Blackwater State Forest and, recently celebrated with partners the conservation of over 13,500 acres of lands to be restored to longleaf pine forest.

Funding for this work originated from Florida’s Defense Infrastructure Grant awarded to Santa Rosa County and the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration through the Department of the Navy.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.