Safety on the Eglin Reservation

Safety while visiting the Eglin reservation is a top priority.  The reservation is large, remote, and sometimes difficult to access.  You should always plan activities with safety in mind.  

With the increased scope and complexity of military training/testing operations, all or portions of the Eglin reservation are subject to more frequent closures. To provide a graphical representation of daily public access restrictions of otherwise open recreation areas, Eglin Natural Resources Office developed the PAM. All individuals must review the PAM prior to entering the Eglin reservation. Compliance with this requirement is mandatory. Click to view the map: PAM 

Visitor Tips:

  • Plan your trip and route ahead of time.
  • Let someone know where you plan to be and when you plan to return, which route you plan to take. 
  • Take maps, a gps, compass, etc. as-needed to navigate to and from where you want to go.  Do not rely upon having cell phone access.  Some parts of Eglin do not have good cell service, your battery may die, and you might drop or lose your phone.  
  • Take water, sunscreen, and appropriate snacks for any outdoor activities.
  • Be situationally aware: keep your eyes open for any hazards that you may encounter.  Watch where you put your feet, and be careful about what you touch.  

Road Safety - Roads on the reservation are mostly sand and packed dirt or gravel.  Weather conditions, previous vehicles, and your own vehicle can change the conditions of the road.  If you drive a 2-wheel drive vehicle, take extra care so as not to get stuck.  Walk any parts of the road that look suspicious, or avoid going on roads that you are unsure of.  Even 4-wheel drive vehicles may have some difficulty with roads during weather events or after previous vehicles have stirred the sand.  Use caution when travelling over any unfamiliar roads.  

UXO Warning:

Even objects that were not intended to be explosive can become dangerous over time.  
This high pressure bottle washed up on the beach and was treated as UXO because it posed a safety hazard.  

WARNINGUnexploded Ordnance (UXO). The Eglin reservation has been supporting military testing and training since 1939.  Persons who are permitted access to the reservation are hereby warned they may encounter unexploded ordnance (bullets, bombs, rockets, flares, etc.) in the areas that are open for public recreation.  This UXO may be on the surface, or they may be partially or completely buried.  Report the location and description of the UXO to one of the following: Eglin Security Forces (882-2000), Jackson Guard (882-4165 or 4166), Eglin Consolidated Command Post (883-4020) or 911 (inform them you are on the Eglin reservation)..



You can see our UXO safety video by viewing our Safety Brief.

Wildlife Safety:

Poison-ivy/Cactus/Thorny Vines - Wear appropriate clothing when in the field.  Lightweight moisture-wicking fabrics are usually enough to protect your skin from contacting poison-ivy oils and offer some protection against thorns and spines.  Watch what you touch and where you sit or put things on the ground.  Poison-ivy oils can spread from clothing and shoes to your skin by touch.  Washing clothes with laundry detergent is usually enough to cut the oils, but in the field the best thing to do is to avoid exposure.  Some wipes and lotions are available to reduce the effects of the oils, and can be purchased at any local pharmacy.  You can apply most of these in the field without water and as-needed.  Cactus spines are often overlooked when they are small and hair-like.  If you come in contact with spines, you can usually remove the smallest and hardest to see ones by using masking tape.  

Fire Ants/Wasps/Bees - Keep your eyes open for fire ant nests and do not disturb the nest.  Some bees and wasps will create nests in trees, while others are ground-nesting.  Watch where you walk and avoid brushing against vegetation where a nest may be hidden on the backside of leaves or on the underside of a branch.  You should know if you are allergic to stings and carry appropriate medical supplies.  Notify others in your group of your allergy and have them help you avoid any risky situations.  

Ticks/Mosquitoes - Ticks and mosquitoes are present year-round in Florida and can transmit diseases.  Bite prevention and tick removal can reduce the risk of disease.  Wear appropriate clothing (tucked-in and buttoned-up shirts, light-colored fabric to spot ticks), and apply insect-repellent directly to uncovered skin to repel ticks and mosquitoes.  It takes ticks several hours of feeding to transmit disease, so quick removal is important.  Check your skin when you return from the field and remove any ticks promptly.  Parents should pay special attention to their children as children are most at-risk for tick and mosquito bites. 
You can learn more by clicking on the following links: 
CDC Mosquito Bite Prevention 
CDC Lyme Disease Fact Sheet

Venomous Snakes - Although most snakes in northwest Florida are non-venomous (harmless) and most venomous snakes are not aggressive, you should take care to avoid encountering them.  Watch your feet to avoid stepping on snakes, check the ground around you before sitting or putting gear down.  Venomous snakes on Eglin are species that prefer being on the ground (not in the trees).  Most snakes will avoid human encounters by fleeing or hiding.  If you spot a snake, give it time to get away.  If the snake appears to be "chasing" you, go a different direction because many snakes remember where safe burrows and hiding spots are, and they want to return to that spot to avoid you.  If the snake hides, and most of the venomous snakes on Eglin prefer to hide in leaf litter or under vegetation, let it stay hidden and give it space.  Do not approach venomous snakes.  


This snake is NON-VENOMOUS!!  It is a black racer, and it eats mostly frogs, lizards, and other snakes.

Alligators - Alligators are common in the southeast.  They are usually found in water, although you may encounter them basking on stream banks and shorelines, or travelling overland.  Do not approach alligators, always give them space.  

Nuisance Wildlife (Raccoons, Opossums, Feral Cats and Dogs, Feral Hogs) - DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE!  Feeding wildlife causes them to become ill.  It also spreads disease and causes animals to become more aggressive.  Sick or aggressive wildlife can harm visitors.  If you notice wildlife that is behaving strangely, notify the Natural Resources Office 850 882-4165 or the FWC.  

Rabid Animals - Wildlife on the Eglin reservation are wild and may potentially carry the rabies virus.  You should make sure that your pets are vaccinated, and avoid contact with animals that are behaving strangely.  Notify the Eglin Natural Resources Office or the FWC where and when you observed the animal behaving strangely.  DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE!  Approaching wild animals can put you at risk for contacting any disease that they might carry.  Rabies is transmitted through bites or scratches, even small cuts that you may not think are serious.  In Florida, wild animal rabies cases are most often from raccoons, foxes and bats, but domestic pets infect more humans than any wild animals (which is why it is important to vaccinate your pets). If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal on the Eglin reservation, wash the area with soap and water, then contact a local health care provider.  
Click on the following link to learn more:

Florida Health Rabies Fact Sheet

All wildlife and plant species on the Eglin reservation are protected.  Report any wildlife harrassment to the Natural Resources Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  

Prescribed Fire Safety:

Fire is an important natural ecosystem process.  It balances and renews vegetation and soil nutrients.  Our ecosystems on the Eglin reservation require fire, and we use prescribed fire as an important management tool.  

Prescribed fires are scheduled in areas that will be closed to maintain safety.  You should always check the PAM for closed areas.  

To learn more about fire on the landscape, we've linked these excellent articles:

Woodland Magazine: Friendly Fire 

Krista Schlyer, (c) 2015 American Forest Foundation

Southern Fire Exchange: Effects of Prescribed Fire and Wildfire

John M. Diaz,

Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy: Lightning-Season Burning

Jim Cox and Brent Widener,

Eglin Natural Resources personnel conducting a prescribed fire.