Eglin Commander shuts down popular Destin beach without prior notice

Posted on May 8, 2020 by Staff reports

View of Destin from Eglin’s East Pass Beach Area, which was closed today (South Santa Rosa News file photo)

The 96th Test Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, ordered the closure of Eglin’s East Pass Beach Area property located
adjacent to the Marler Bridge effective May 8.

The closure was ordered due to increased activity at EPBA, leading to unsafe conditions, unauthorized commercial activities on federal property, and to protect the Eglin range, a national asset, stated a news release.

According to Eglin officers, concerns include:

  • Incompatible and unsafe blend of beach goers and moving vessels along the
  • Illegal and unsafe vehicular traffic: travelling the wrong direction on
    the shoulder of U.S. Highway 98
  • Lack of adequate parking control: vehicles parking on the shoulder of U.S.
    98 and EPBA
  • Illegal commercial activity taking place by water-bound vendors
  • Inability to fund adequate solutions to safety and liability issues

As a result of these unauthorized activities, barriers were installed to prevent unsafe parking on the shoulder of U.S. 98.

Eglin maintains three other beach access points on Okaloosa Island in addition to the EPBA – the Eglin Beach Club, the Matterhorn, and Princess Beach. Part of allowing that to occur is ensuring, to the greatest extent possible, the safety of the users, as well as ensuring illegal commercial activity does not occur on federal land.

The release stated that Eglin AFB is “committed to being a good neighbor and will continue to allow mission  compatible recreation throughout the reservation to the greatest extent possible.”

“I appreciate your cooperation with ensuring the safety of our community while protecting the vital national security missions we execute on Eglin AFB and the reservation,” said Cain.