Testing of the soil, ground water and wells is to begin this spring for the Delaware Wildlife Area Public Shooting Range, according to Eric Pastell, Ohio Department of Natural Resources program manager for outdoor education.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has closed the shooting range for the 2017 season to undergo a $6 million renovation.
Officials said the range, located in the northern part of the county east of U.S. 23 along State Route 229, is scheduled to re-open in 2018.
Pastell said, everything ODNR does has to be approved by the US Army Corp of Engineers. “We’re defiantly trying to keep it moving,” he said. The property is owned by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and leased by ODNR.
The existing range is located in a floodplain and has been in use for over 50 years with no evidence of lead recovery being conducted.
The Army Corp of Engineers has asked ODNR to undergo a Voluntary Action Program and have testing done on the property, said Chuck Minster, public affairs specialist for the Army Corp of Engineers.
“The Voluntary Action Program is a process,” Pastell said. “It takes a look at the impact shooting has had on the property.”
In an earlier report, Minster said ODNR had entered into an agreement with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to perform the testing. Since then The Gazette has learned the OEPA hasn’t an agreement with ODNR for testing the property.
“Ohio EPA is not testing the property since the use of munitions does not constitute a waste management activity,” Linda Amer, OEPA spokesman, said in an email. “Ohio EPA did provide ODNR with a U.S. EPA guidance document, ‘Best Management Practices for Lead Outdoor Shooting Ranges’ to help assure regulatory compliance.”
Pastell said Burgess and Niple, consultants for the project, will have the testing done on the property, but it will take time.
“Everything we do with our consultants has to be approved by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers,” Pastell said. “We just want to be a good partner with the U.S. Army Corp.”
Burgess and Niple are engineers and environmental scientists from Columbus who design and build environmental structures and facilities.
The Gazette contacted Tom Mignery of Burgess and Niple, who said he would need authorization from ODNR before he could talk about the project.
ODNR’s plans are to move the range from the frequently flooding plain it is located in now to higher ground to a 100-year flood plain. “We are moving it higher ground so we can get out of the flood plane,” Pastell said. “To give shooters more days of shooting.”
During the 2016 season ODNR reported that 8,960 shooters visited the range, a thousand more visitors than it had in 2015.
Renovation of the range will be funded through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, the Pittman-Robertson Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax and the Dingell-Johnson Act.
“These shooters are paying to have this done,” said Pastell. “We want to make sure they get their shooting range.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.