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Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida

Program: Compatible Use

Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida

Communities surrounding Avon Park Air Force Range working together to ensure that the installation meets its mission while providing compatibility with civilian activities and area wildlife.

The Central Florida Regional Planning Council (CFRPC) served as the project sponsor and grantee for the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) surrounding Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR). The project kicked off in October 2008 and was completed in August 2010, and CFRPC continues to oversee implementing key study recommendations. The Counties of Highlands, Polk, Osceola, and Okeechobee, as well as the Cities of Avon Park, Frostproof, and Sebring participated in the CFRPC’s JLUS. The CFRPC directly handles planning activities for four of the seven JLUS participants, with Highlands, Okeechobee, and Osceola Counties being the exception, as they fall under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Florida Regional Planning Council.

CFRPC’s JLUS represents a community-driven planning process among APAFR and the surrounding communities to promote compatible civilian development in support of military readiness and defense capabilities; protect public health, safety, general welfare, and quality of life; promote the economic viability of the communities; and foster continued communication among APAFR and the surrounding communities to address compatibility issues. 

APAFR, located in Central Florida, is the largest bombing and gunnery range east of the Mississippi River. APAFR's 106,000 acres provide an important training facility for military units from all Services including Air Force, Navy, Marines, Air and Army National Guard, Army Airborne and Ranger Units, and the Army Reserve. However, nearly 100,000 acres of the range are open to public access for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and nature research when military activities allow. Cattle grazing leases encompass more than 96,000 acres and timber sales take place on approximately 40,000 acres of range land. The Air Force also engages in a land management program that includes protection and management of threatened and endangered species and their habitat, protection of wetlands, and other outstanding natural resource areas, as well as identification and protection of cultural resources.

General urban development in proximity to the installation has resulted in the following mission compatibility concerns:

  • Light encroachment
  • Electromagnetic spectrum encroachment
  • Potential for urban encroachment (driven in large part by the number of large land holders adjacent to the range)
  • An increase in multi-agency/service use of the range (e.g. the Florida Army National Guard, the FBI, and Coast Guard)
  • Unique training conditions offered by the range (i.e. one of the few ranges in the country in which the cantonment area includes an airfield)

High-priority implementation recommendations proposed in the JLUS include:

  • Completion of a noise study
  • Use of conservation easements and land acquisition to create and expand a buffer around APAFR
  • Implementation of land use regulations
  • Development of disclosure mechanisms
  • Encroachment prevention
  • Communication and coordination

Efforts to carry out recommendations from the 2010 JLUS are ongoing. 

Point of Contact:

Jennifer Codo-Salisbury

Director of Planning

(863) 534-7130 x 178

Program: Compatible Use

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