After a long delay in the renovation of the Delaware Shooting Range, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced earlier this month that work has begun, and the goal is for the facility to reopen to the public by the spring of 2020.
“Once the environmental remediation work has been completed, the Division of Wildlife plans to begin upgrades to the range this summer,” states an April 10 press release from ODNR.
Outdoor Education Program Manager Eric Postell said ODNR will put out for bids on construction contracts this summer.
The range, located in the northern part of Delaware County on state Route 229, just east of U.S. Route 23, was closed to the public in January 2017 for what was originally scheduled to be a $6 million renovation with a reopening date schedule for the 2018 shooting season.
However, work progressed slower than originally anticipated because ODNR had to work within the guidelines established by the property owners — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
According to previous reports from officials, the existing range is located in a yearly floodplain and has been in use for over 50 years with no evidence of lead recovery 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.
Postell previously reported the testing would include taking samples from the surrounding soil, groundwater and wells, which were then sent to a lab for analysis. He also said the results had to be shared with the USACE, which had to approve everything before ODNR could take action on the property.
“We knew the Voluntary Action Plan was going to take time,” he said earlier last year. “That’s why we closed the range down.”
Because of the required testing and lead contamination clean up, Wildlife District One Supervisor Korey Brown said the cost of the renovation is now budgeted to be over $8 million.
Brown said ODNR’s plans are to move the new multi-million-dollar facility east of the original shooting range, getting it out off the annual flood plain into the 100-year flood plain.
“We’re very excited,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming, and it has been a lot of frustration to the public.”
According to ODNR plans, the new facility will be comprised of:
• Four clay-target hand trap fields
• 30 shooting positions at 100 yards
• 24 position at 25 yards
• 36 position a 50-foot pistol range
• 20 positions at 90-meters archery range
• 14 position, 3-D archery walk-through course with elevated shooting positions
“While the Delaware range is closed, please visit one of the other public shooting ranges,” Brown states in the ODNR press release. “To help fill the shooting void that was created by the temporary closure of the Delaware Shooting Range, the Cardinal Shooting Center will honor the Division of Wildlife’s one-day and annual shooting range permits for one hour, Thursday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. until dusk.”
When ODNR closed the range at the end of December 2016, statistics indicated the sale of firearms had nearly tripled since 2007, totaling $14.5 million. Officials said during the 2016 season, 8,960 shooters visited the range, which was 1,000 more visitors than it had in 2015.
Officials said 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 maintaining wildlife conservation.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. The division is committed to providing safe and quality shooting opportunities for Ohioans, while remaining good stewards of the environment.
For additional notifications and shooting opportunities visit wildohio.gov/ranges. For questions about the Delaware Shooting Range, call the Wildlife District One office at 614-644-3925.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.