During World War II, the military acquired over 159,000 acres for basic and amphibious training. The site became known as Camp Gordon Johnston. Amphibious training involved shore-to-shore and ship-to-shore movements. It also included obstacle, grenade and bayonet courses and demolitions training sites. Troops used both practice and live rockets, grenades, artillery rounds, mortars and various materials used to clear obstacles and mine fields. The site surrounds (but does not include) Carrabelle. It extends north to Apalachicola National Forest, south and east to the Gulf of Mexico and west to Tate's Hell Swamp. After the war, the military released all of the property except 32 acres used for an Air Force radar site. The land is now mostly privately owned with portions largely undeveloped in addition to recreational, residential and commercial areas.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has investigated the site several times over the years. An Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis in 2001 determined there were areas where specially trained technicians needed to search for and remove munitions. A removal action was completed in 2003 on an area near Summer Camp called Area B Grenade Court and Area J4 Special Training Area near Lanark Village. In 2004, a removal action was completed on Area A Bazooka Range near Lanark Village. Dog Island was the focus of a removal action that was conducted in 2006.
To ensure the entire area is safe and to comply with Army regulations issued in 2004, the Corps is now doing a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) of the former trainings areas, including where removal actions have been completed. The purpose is to determine where and what types of contamination may be present as a result of the military's use of the property during WWII. This is known as characterizing the nature (what it is) and extent (where is it) of the potential contamination.
The focus of the investigation is those specific areas where munitions could potentially be present. They are as follows: A-Bazooka Range; B-Grenade Court; E-Artillery Impact Range; F-Dog Island; G-Alligator Point Gunnery Range; H-Red, White and Green Beaches; I-Harbeson City (Special Training Area 5); J1-Special Training Area 1; J2-Special Training Area 2; J3-Special Training Area 3; J4-Special Training Area 4; M-Cleared Lands; N1-Airfield Small Arms Ranges; N2-Small Arms Range Complex.
The Corps works hard to keep all interested parties informed and offers opportunities for dialogue throughout all phases.