In 1943, the Army leased two non-contiguous sites on Sand Key in Pinellas County for training air crews. Air crews from Pinellas Army Airfield used the 177.8-acre site, north of the causeway in Belleair Beach, as an air-to-ground gunnery range, dropping practice bombs and rockets at targets on the beach. Soldiers from Drew Field used the 2.5-acre anti-aircraft gunnery range, south of the causeway in Belleair Shores, to practice firing machine guns on the beach at aerial targets towed over the Gulf of Mexico. Once World War II ended, the Army no longer needed the site, and the leases were terminated in January 1947.
The Army and Navy conducted a number of investigations in the Gulf near the former air-to-ground gunnery range from the 1960s through the early 1990s. The Corps also has completed a number of investigations. After a thorough analysis in 1996, the Corps determined there is no remaining risk associated with the anti-aircraft gunnery range and a low risk associated with the air-to-ground gunnery range. Community awareness activities were implemented to make sure those living in or visiting the area would know about the historical training and what to do should someone see something thought to be munitions-related. No one has reported findinganything since that time.
While no munitions or munitions debris have been identified in more than 20 years, to ensure public safety, the Corps is conducting a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study to determine if anything from the military’s training remains in the area and to identifyappropriate future actions.