Located in southeastern Santa Rosa County, southern Okaloosa County, and southwestern Walton County, bordered by the Yellow River, Shoal River, and Titi Creek to the north, Highway 331 and private lands to the east and northeast, Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Escambia Bay to the west. Eglin is approximately 52 miles (83 km) east to west and 18 miles (28 km) north to south, and is nearly contiguous with the Blackwater River State Forest IBA to the north.
Eglin Air Force Base formerly was Choctawhatchee National Forest, but was converted to military use at the beginning of World War II. The U.S. Air Force uses the Base to test and develop conventional munitions on 60,000 acres (24,282 hectares) of test ranges.
Eglin Air Force Base is the largest forested military installation in the United States. It is recognized by The Nature Conservancy as an area of global significance for biodiversity, with 34 natural communities identified, and 118 rare or imperiled species present, including numerous endemics. Eglin supports the following listed species: 73 plants, 10 fishes, 10 terrestrial reptiles and amphibians, 5 marine reptiles (sea turtles), 14 birds, 3 terrestrial mammals, and 6 marine mammals (5 whales).
This vast IBA supports the fourth-largest population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers remaining in the world, as well as all other species of longleaf pine flatwoods and sandhills. It also supports the second-greatest overall diversity of native species of any site in Florida.
Shorebird diversity (M) - 38 spp
Wood-warbler diversity (M) - 36 spp
Diversity - 324 natives, 3 exotics (second most diverse IBA in Florida)
Management issues at Eglin balance military use, recreational use, forest use, and ecosystem protection. Forest management practices are moving toward uneven-aged stands of longleaf pine. Most timbering is for removal of sand pines and pine plantations. Prescribed fire was applied to over 202,000 acres (81,749 hectares) between 1993 and 1997. ? Sandhills restoration activities involve mechanically removing sand pines and hardwoods, replanting longleaf pine (8 million seedlings since 1993), and annually burning over 40,000 acres (16,188 hectares), mostly during the growing season. ? Exotic plants include several species, with ?Chinese tallowtree (Sapium sebiferum) and ?cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) posing the most severe threats. Control measures are underway. ? Feral hogs are controlled by hunting. ? Collisions between birds and aircraft (Bird Air Strike Hazard; BASH) are the focus of the Bird Hazard Working Group. BASH events at Eglin are considered ?sporadic? and have required lethal control for only short periods. Most of the collisions involve Cattle Egrets and Ring-billed Gulls.
*sandhills, *riverine, *coastal strand, longleaf pine flatwoods, pine plantation, sand pine scrub, fields, hardwood swamp, bayhead, lacustrine