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Eglin Beach crackdown
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE -- Businesses cashing in at one of Destin's most popular beach spots are causing a problem for Eglin Air Force Base.
Several floating businesses have been operating near a beach on Eglin property, at the west end of the Destin Bridge.
That's prompted a warning from the Department of Environmental Protection. They say commercial activity is not allowed on that beach. Eglin was warned the state could fine the base, if the problem is not corrected.
Laura Hussey "Earlier this week, Eglin Air Force Base issued a trespassing citation to Timberview helicopters. They were operating on Theis Barge, right next to Eglin property. It's part of a bigger push to get all commerical activity away from this beach"
The helicopter has drawn the most attention, but last summer several vendors rented kayaks, paddleboards and jetskis from pontoon boats anchored near the beach.
Ronda Kinsman "This is really sad to see, 'cause this is really a beautiful part of the beach. I'm glad they still allow us to walk on it, and just to enjoy this pristine nature here"
Ronda Kinsman grew up here and says undeveloped stretches of beach are precious. She appreciates the effort to keep "revenue-generating activties" somewhere else.
Brianna Brown "When we came down here last summer, we came up here with her family and there was pontoon boats and people out here having so much fun, and it just made us want to get out and enjoy the party"
Brianna brown says the businesses add to the atmosphere, and she would hate to see them go.Technically Eglin does not have jurisdiction in the water where the businesses are anchored.
But they've posted signs saying people can't cross or use their land to patronize those businesses.
Shajuana Pina didn't realize the beach her family loves to walk on belongs to the Air Force.....And that the public is allowed to use it only at their discretion. She says that ends any debate about whether the businesses should go.
Shajuana Pina "Oh well in that case, if it's against the rules, it's all about permission. If they don't have permission to do it, then no, end of story"
Laura Hussey "Nobody's talking about closing the beach, not right now. Eglin leaders hope raising awareness will take care of the problem. In Destin Laura Hussey, Channel 3 News."