Officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) said Thursday that the Delaware State Park Shooting Range will remain closed for the 2018 season.
The shooting range, located in the northern part of Delaware County just east of U.S. 23 along state Route 229, is usually open from March to December, but ODNR closed it in January 2017 to begin work on a $6 million renovation with the anticipation of re-opening for 2018 season.
However, ODNR doesn’t own the property, it is leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
According to ODNR officials, the existing range has been in use for over 50 years with no evidence of lead recovery ever being conducted. As part of the renovations, the USACE asked ODNR to undergo a Voluntary Action Program to have testing done to look at the impact shooting has had on the land.
According to Eric Postell, ODNR program manager for outdoor education, the testing included taking samples from the surrounding soil, groundwater and wells.
Knowing that the testing was going to take time, “it’s why we closed the range down,” he said.
Postell said before anything could happen, the results had to be shared with the USACE. He said everything ODNR does has to be approved by the USACE, and it will probably be a while before it was able to share any information with the public.
“The Army Corps of Engineers now have the results of the testing,” he said. “It’s a long, long process, and we’re trying to get a meeting scheduled in May so we can move forward.”
According to ODNR officials, plans are to move the range from the yearly floodplain it is currently located in to higher ground onto a 100-year floodplain. Burgess and Niple, an engineering and environmental science firm from Columbus, is conducting the testing and is the firm that designed the new environmental structure and facilities.
Plans for the new shooting complex show four hand trap shooting fields, 30 shooting positions at the 100-yard range, 36 positions at the 50-foot pistol range, 24 positions at the 25-yard range, 20 positions at the the 90-meter archery range, a 14 position 3D archery walk-through course, a permanent range master building, an indoor archery range, office space and permanent restrooms.
When ODNR closed the range at the end of December 2016, statistics indicated the sale of firearms had nearly tripled since 2007 with sales totaling $14.5 million. Officials said during the 2016 season, 8,960 shooters visited the range, which was a 1,000 more visitors than it had in 2015.
According to Postell, the renovations are funded through the sale of state hunting and fishing licenses, the Pittman-Robertson Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax and the Dingell-Johnson Act. Both of the acts place excise taxes on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment, which is dedicated to maintain wildlife conservation.
While the Delaware range is closed, ODNR is asking shooters to visit one of the other public shooting ranges in central Ohio. A class “A” range requires a shooting range permit for all persons 18 years old or older. Permits are available at all hunting and fishing license outlets and online at wildohio.gov.
For additional information, visit delgazette.com and click on the provided links in the online version of this article.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.