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Tilley Creek

Shooting Range

 

Site Assessment

 

May 2005

 

Prepared by the citizens of

Tilley Creek and Jackson County

 

 

 


 

 

 

Tilley Creek Shooting Range Site Assessment

 

INTRODUCTION................................................................................................... 1

Purpose............................................................................................................... 1

Background......................................................................................................... 1

Tilley Creek......................................................................................................... 1

Surrounding Community....................................................................................... 2

Historic Significance of Bob Pressley Farm........................................................... 2

Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc.................................................................................. 3

LEAD AND OTHER POLLUTANTS FROM AMMUNITION............................ 4

Background......................................................................................................... 4

Human Health Consequences............................................................................... 4

Harm to Fish and Wildlife..................................................................................... 4

Lead Ammunition in the Environment.................................................................... 5

Best Management Practices.................................................................................. 5

Hazardous Waste................................................................................................. 8

Regulatory and Legal Issues................................................................................ 10

Case Histories.................................................................................................... 11

References......................................................................................................... 14

SHOOTING RANGE NOISE POLLUTION...................................................... 15

Background....................................................................................................... 15

Impact of Shooting Range Noise......................................................................... 16

Site Considerations............................................................................................. 16

Site Specific Issues............................................................................................. 17

Legal Issues....................................................................................................... 17

Case Histories.................................................................................................... 18

References......................................................................................................... 20

SAFETY CONCERNS...................................................................................... 21

OSHA Provisions............................................................................................... 21

Liability Insurance............................................................................................... 21

Alcohol Consumption......................................................................................... 21

PUBLIC COMMENTS....................................................................................... 23

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS.................................................................. 30

 


INTRODUCTION

 

Purpose

 

The purpose of this report is to evaluate the potential short-term and long-term impacts of the shooting range facility proposed by Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc. in the Tilley Creek community, Cullowhee Township, Jackson County, North Carolina.  This assessment will address general economic, environmental and quality of life issues associated with similar shooting range facilities and the specific physical characteristics of the proposed site, along with relevant legal and regulatory measures, as well as guidelines endorsed by the shooting range industry itself. 

 

Background

 

As of April 2005, Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc. has entered into a contract to purchase 194 acres on Tilley Creek from Sam and Lisa Matthews of Cullowhee.  The tract is commonly known as the “Bob Pressley farm.”  According to the Jackson County Tax Assessor, the appraised value of the property (PIN # 7547-24-4923) is $629,500. 

 

The property is bisected by Tilley Creek Road (State Road 1001), which runs roughly parallel to, and on average, a distance of 400 feet from Tilley Creek.  The creek itself flows through the length of the property for a distance of approximately 4000 feet.  The portion of the property which is south of Tilley Creek rises steeply and is heavily wooded.  The lowest portion of the property, adjoining Tilley Creek, has been identified as a zone A flood plain. 

 

Tilley Creek

 

Tilley Creek and its tributaries drain a watershed that is bordered on the northwest by Savannah Ridge, on the southwest by the Macon County boundary, and on the southeast by the ridge that runs from Moss Knob and Buck Knob toward Speedwell.  Tilley Creek flows into Cullowhee Creek, which subsequently flows into the Tuckasegee River.  According to the North Carolina Division of Water Quality, Tilley Creek is designated as a class C waterway and, furthermore, is designated as Trout Waters, a supplemental classification intended to protect freshwaters for natural trout propagation and survival of stocked trout.

 

Surrounding Community

 

The Tilley Creek community is a quiet residential community.  Many of the residents live on land passed down by their ancestors.  Approximately 60 parcels of property lie completely or partially within a one-quarter mile radius of the proposed range property, and approximately 35 private homes are within that same area.  The Nantahala National Forest borders one part of the property, and eight private tracts adjoin the rest of the property.  One example is the Hopkins family farmstead adjoining the property downstream.  The establishment of a shooting range, with adverse impacts like noise and lead pollution, could harm livestock and trout raised by that family, and would disrupt the lives of many other Tilley Creek residents.

Historic Significance of Bob Pressley Farm

 

Rebecca Johnson with the North Carolina Preservation Office visited the property and wrote a letter stating that the farmhouse and surrounding outbuildings are a valuable historical and cultural resource to Jackson County and Western North Carolina and stated that it had a good chance to qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.   Also, the property has been identified as a Native American archeological site.

 

The farmhouse is estimated to have been built by the Pressley family in 1880. Interesting characteristics about it are the smaller upper window fenestrations. There are no other examples of that in Jackson County. Another interesting architectural feature and unusual for that time period is the wrap around porch.  Surrounding the house are a spring house, smoke house, corn crib, hog house, chicken coop, privy, three barns, and the remains of a blacksmith shop. Together these buildings serve as an example of historic Appalachia, how this family as well as many others survived living almost entirely off the land.

 

The setting of the farmhouse and outbuildings is most interesting. Nestled between a spring and Tilley creek and shouldered by two mountain ridges, the farm house sits on a knoll, overlooking the fields and out to the parkway.  The land was Cherokee hunting grounds until the early 1830's. At that time the Tilley/Pressley family purchased the land as an original land grant. In fact, most of the adjacent property owners and many of the surrounding ones are also part of the Pressley family and are living on land left to them by their families, the early settlers into these mountains.

 

Beginning in 1847, David Swain Pressley and his first wife Mary Pressley, then his second wife Clare Lavina Bennett lived there with their 11 children until their deaths. Then their son Robert Daniel Pressley and his wife Iva Ashe Pressley lived and raised their 13 children on the farm until their deaths in 1968 and 1974. Bob and Iva's youngest son, Bufurd Pressley continued to live on the farm until his death in 1990. Many people on the mountain still have fond memories of Bob and Iva. In 1991, the farm tract was sold in a court forced sale. The current owner left the properties as they stood when he bought them, silent against the peaceful mountain.

 

Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc.

 

Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc., based in Cashiers, NC, was established as a non-profit corporation in March 1987 and acquired tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(7) organization, a designation applied to private social clubs.  The federal tax number for the corporation is 58-1774737.  From the time of its founding until this year, the corporation leased property on Breedlove Road, near Cashiers, from the Carlton family.  The corporation lost its lease at the same time that the Carlton family was negotiating the sale of nearby property to Trillium Links for a proposed 200 home development.

 

Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc. reports having slightly more than 100 members, but to date has refused to release its membership list.  In 2002, the corporation reported total revenue of $126,251, and total expenses of $119,756.  The corporation’s federal 990 tax returns indicate that depreciation has been taken on a club house and business property, but a review of records at the Jackson County Tax Collection Office does not indicate that tax billings were made to the corporation. It does appear that Carleton Clark was billed for taxes due on the club house that was depreciated on the corporation’s federal tax return.

 

As of 2001, the Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc.’s Breedlove Road facilities included a 20-station, 100-target sporting clays course on heavily wooded mountain terrain, plus two skeet fields, wobble trap, and a three-station, three-position pistol range.

 

 


LEAD AND OTHER POLLUTANTS FROM AMMUNITION

 

Background

 

Lead is a highly toxic metal that has been used by man for centuries.  It is considered the number one environmental threat to children’s health by the federal government and is the most prevalent contaminant at Superfund sites across the country.  It has been recognized as a threat to our fish and wildlife and in 1991 a federal ban was placed on the use of lead shot in waterfowl hunting.  The military has been involved in massive cleanup efforts for years at an estimated 700 military firing ranges across the country.  Approximately 9000 non-military shooting ranges in the United States contribute heavily to the more 58,000 metric tons of lead shotgun pellets and other munitions shot into the American landscape each year.  Other metals associated with range activities include copper, zinc, tungsten, arsenic, antimony, and nickel.

 

Human Health Consequences

 

The intake of lead has a wide variety of effects on humans.  Exposure to lead can be a health risk to people at any age.   Adults and children exposed to lead are susceptible to neurotoxic effects.  Lead may also increase blood pressure and cause anemia; high levels of exposure to lead may damage the brain and kidneys and even cause death.

 

Harm to Fish and Wildlife

 

There is an abundance of information concerning the effects of lead on fish and wildlife.  Animals can ingest the lead pellets directly or indirectly from contaminated food such as worms or small mammals.  Even a single lead shot can be lethal to a bird or mammal.  Direct ingestion of lead shot or lead bullet fragments is the most important exposure pathway for wildlife.  Birds may consume lead shot as grit for the gizzard, or it may be mistaken for small seeds and eaten.  Mourning doves have been documented to ingest spent shot in heavily hunted areas.  In two studies of wildlife exposure at trap and skeet ranges a Maryland range study analyzed 20 song birds and found 85% experienced acute lead poisoning and at a federal law enforcement range in Georgia of the 72 collected avian and mammal species 33% showed signs of lead exposure,  17% showed subclinical toxicity and ten were dead.  Lead from shot or bullets in the soil that has weathered can be absorbed by plants and may accumulate in roots, leaves, seeds or other parts that may be eaten by birds or animals.

 

When discharged near surface water, or carried by rain water runoff from nearby slopes, spent lead pellets either sink into the sediments or remain on the bed of a water body unless they are carried elsewhere by currents.  The pellets, however, can remain potentially available to feeding waterfowl in shallow water bodies.  In acidic waters some lead may dissolve into surface water and reach regulatory limits. Rainbow trout are susceptible to lead poisoning from water-borne lead concentrations of 1-10 parts per million. 

 

Lead Ammunition in the Environment

 

Lead ammunition oxidizes in the environment, forming a crust around the shot containing lead carbonates and sulfates.  The rate of oxidation depends upon several factors including: oxidation/reduction potential, ionic strength, pH, oxygen content of the soil and presence of certain compounds that may inhibit oxidation such as phosphates.  While metallic lead is insoluble under typical environmental conditions, the compounds in the crust may be released into the environment.  This release rate is regulated by the pH, ionic strength, and the presence of carbonate, sulfate, sulfide, phosphate, chloride, and organic matter in the soil. 

 

Lead shot and bullets, lead particles or dissolved lead can be moved by storm water runoff.  Frequency of rainfall and rainfall intensity influence the likelihood of lead being transported through the environment.  Steep slopes on areas underlain by clays or other low permeable soils also contribute to lead debris being transported by storm water runoff. 

 

Acidic rainwater may dissolve weathered lead compounds.  A portion of the lead may be transported in solution in groundwater beneath land surfaces.  Groundwater may transport lead in solution from the higher topographic areas to the lower areas such as valleys, where it is discharged and becomes part of the surface water flow. 


Best Management Practices

 

The National Shooting Sports Foundation range management guidelines strongly encourage range managers to mitigate the impacts of lead and avoid lead contamination of soils and ground and surface water.  The National Rifle Association, Amateur Trapshooting Association, National Skeet Shooting Association, and National Sporting Clays Foundation encourage best management practices (BMPs) to minimize the potential of lead impacting the range site and adjacent properties. 

 

The most important site selection criteria to consider when selecting a new range location include:

·        Topography – lead reclamation is more successful at ranges where the shotfall zone is relatively flat

·        Surface water flow patterns – if surface water bodies lie below the shotfall zone, potential for lead contamination is even greater

·        Soil type – sandy, alkaline soils may inhibit lead dissolution

·        Depth to groundwater - dissolved lead is more likely to reach groundwater close to the surface

·        Juxtaposition to wildlife areas – avoiding wildlife habitat areas decreases the likelihood of lead poisoning of wildlife

 

The Tilley Creek site does not match well with any of the environmental factors which should be looked at when locating a trap and skeet shooting range.  The property is bisected by Tilley Creek; the soils (Evard and Saunook) are acidic and high in organic matter: there is a severe slope to the south allowing runoff of the lead into the creek; the property to the south is national forest and prime turkey and grouse habitat.

 

Shot containment is an important design consideration for all ranges, including shotgun ranges with their large fan-shaped shotfall zones where lead pellets are broadly dispersed.  Containment methods are intended to reduce the mobility of lead debris, and enhance the practicality of removal and recycling of spent shot.  Other management practices include monitoring of lead volume discharged on the range, measurement of soil pH, and addition of lime and phosphate where indicated to reduce lead migration.  However, it is not advisable to use phosphate near water bodies because it contributes to algal blooms.

 

In Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges,  prepared by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Wildlife Management Institute, the common physical characteristics found at ranges are listed, along with the potential risks and benefits associated with range operations.  The following characteristics are found at the Tilley Creek site.


 

Physical Characteristics

Potential Risk to Environment

Potential Benefits in Preventing/Managing Contamination

Clay, acidic soils

Acidic soils contribute to lead dissolution

--increasing the potential for lead contamination

--may increase runoff

Difficult to reclaim lead via sifting/raking

May impede percolation of water through contaminated soil

Binds “free” lead ions

May benefit growth of vegetative covers

Steep Rolling Terrain

May promote off-site drainage or drainage to on-site surface water bodies

Can promote “ponding” where contaminated runoff may collect

Can impede reclamation of expended shot via raking

None

Wooded areas

May impede lead reclamation activities making equipment difficult to maneuver

May provide habitat for wildlife – increasing exposure to lead

None

On-site or contiguous surface water bodies

VERY high potential for contamination when shot fall zone is located over or adjacent to water; increased wildlife exposure; increased lead dissolution.  This is NOT an option for successful range location and may be more likely subject to litigation and/or governmental action if lead is deposited into water bodies

None

 

On balance, these guidelines indicate that the Tilley Creek site is unsuitable for a shotgun shooting range, because of the high risk factors for lead contamination of surface and ground water, and the difficulty of implementing an effective program of lead removal and recycling.

 

The proximity of Tilley Creek and numerous tributaries to the shooting range activity is a serious concern.  The Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of the Interior, has instituted a policy to prohibit any ranges from locating within 1000 feet up gradient from any water body.  If applied to the Tilley Creek site, this one requirement would rule out the use of the property for a shooting range.

 

Other BMPs should be applied to efforts at reclaiming and recycling spent lead debris.  One complicating factor for the Tilley Creek site is the fact that it has been identified as a Native American archeological site, which would add complications and expense to any remediation efforts that required significant disturbance of the ground. 

 

Once lead is recovered, it should not be stored or accumulated indefinitely on the premises and should be sent to a recycler as soon as possible.  Any required lead storage should be conducted in an environmentally responsible manner. 

 

Furthermore, BMPs should be applied to maintenance and clean-up of non-lead wastes generated by shotgun range activities. In addition to spent lead shot, other components, such as cartridge cases, wads, and clay targets, are produced and need to be considered.  Spent cartridge cases and wads are unsightly litter and contain metals and other residue that can contribute to contamination issues at a range.  Clay targets are typically made of about 70% limestone bound with 30% pitch, bitumen, or other organic material.  The binding material, particularly if derived from tar or pitch may contain a complex mix of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), some of which are regarded as toxic.  Bitumen-free clays are slightly more expensive, but the small increase in cost is more than justified by the demonstration of the range’s efforts to practice pollution prevention and be responsive to environmental concerns.   

 

Hazardous Waste

 

Any assessment of a site as a potential shooting range should anticipate the possibility that it could, after years of activity, be classified as a hazardous waste site. Spent lead that is left in the environment long after it has served its intended purpose poses a threat to human health and the environment and is therefore subject to the broader statutory definition of solid waste. In addition, if soil containing lead or debris at either an active or closed range is in some way “managed”, including being excavated, moved without being excavated, or buried, it is considered a solid waste.  Once a solid waste, it is considered a hazardous waste if it exhibits the toxicity characteristics for lead when analyzed by the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) protocol developed by the EPA.   When evaluating a site for contamination, it is important to determine the impact to future property use of the site and adjacent properties.

 

 The North Carolina Division of Waste Management, which implements and enforces state and federal environmental laws, has already identified three abandoned gun club shooting ranges as inactive hazardous waste sites.    

 

One of the best known abandoned shooting range sites identified as a hazardous waste site is Lexington Manor in Liberty Township, Ohio.  The site, which was the Hamilton Sportsman’s Association skeet shooting range until 1969, was developed as a residential community without adequate testing.  After 42 homes were constructed, tests conducted in 2002 found hazardous levels of lead in the development.  Results of up to 10,000 parts per million were far above the federal standard of 400 parts per million identified as toxic.  Lexington Manor was declared a Superfund site in 2003.  The developer, Ryland Homes, repurchased 27 homes for a total of $7.88 million and planned to pay an estimated $2.5 million for cleaning the site.

 

In North Carolina, the Division of Waste Management, Superfund Section, has issued guidelines for assessment and cleanup of abandoned ranges and other hazardous waste sites, outlining minimum technical and administrative requirements.  The following is a partial list of the measures required for developing a remedial investigation work plan:

  • site location information and surrounding property land use
  • summary of all management practices employed at the site for hazardous waste 
  • detailed maps displaying topography within a one-mile radius of the site
  • a site survey plat
  • a description of local geologic and hydrogeologic conditions
  • inventory and map of all wells, springs and surface water intakes used as sources of potable water within a one-half mile radius of the center of the cite
  • an evaluation of the site and all adjacent property for the existence of environmentally sensitive areas
  • a chronological listing of all previous owners
  • operational history
  • listing of all hazardous substances that have been used or stored on the site
  • summary of all previous and ongoing environmental investigations

 

These steps would be followed by remedial cleanup procedures as indicated by the initial investigation and thorough site sampling.  When unrestricted land use cleanup levels for soil and sediment contamination cannot be achieved, land use restrictions must be proposed as part or all of a site remedy.  Depending on contaminant concentrations and the site’s proposed restricted use, additional remedial action may or may not be required.

 

Because of the costs involved in assessment and remediation of hazardous waste sites, the parties that caused the contamination sometimes try to evade financial responsibility.  Often, the taxpayers are saddled with the cost of cleanup at such sites.  In the current situation, the nonprofit tax-exempt status of Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc. is a concern, as such a corporate structure can be used to shield individual club members from liability.  The Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of the Interior now requires that shooting range operators on Bureau land be willing to indemnify Reclamation from any expenses associated with cleanup of the area, provide a substantial bond (of a least $100,000) or similar guarantee of cleanup, and submit to periodic testing of all active ranges on an ongoing basis at least once every three years.  

 

Regulatory and Legal Issues

 

Citizen groups have been the driving force behind most legal actions taken against outdoor ranges.  These groups have sued range owners/operators under federal environmental laws.  The Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA), specifically provide citizens with the right to sue in cases in which the environment and human health are threatened.  Actions have also been taken under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) commonly known as Superfund. 

 

RCRA provides the framework for the nation’s solid and hazardous waste management program.  RCRA potentially applies to many phases of range operation because lead bullets and shot, if abandoned, may be a solid and/or hazardous waste and may present an actual or potential imminent and substantial endangerment.

 

The most common allegation against ranges by the EPA and citizen groups, is that they violate the CWA if they do not have permits that allow spent ammunition to be discharged into water.  The EPA strongly recommends that ranges initiate lead removal and recycling activities, to reduce the likelihood of lead shot entering waterways.

 

CERCLA imposes liability on past and present owners or operators of properties where a release of a hazardous substance into the environment exists.  Under CERCLA, lead is considered a hazardous substance.  CERCLA is a powerful statutory authority that can greatly impact current and former range owners/operators.  The statute allows for recovery of damages to natural resources, the cost of any health assessment studies and all cleanup costs.

 

Many provisions of these federal laws are enforced, at least initially, by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  Relevant state laws include the North Carolina Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites Response Act of 1987 (NCGA 130A-310 et seq). 

 

 

Case Histories

 

Owners endure lead removal - Project should be completed in June on 6 acres in Fairfield's Brentwood Estates (Ohio)

Cincinnati Enquirer, April 21, 2005

 

“Terry Moore keeps his windows and doors tightly closed until 6 p.m. every day. He hasn't worried about mowing his Mindy Drive property this season.  The 64-year-old Fairfield Township resident doesn't even mind that most of his Brentwood Estates half-acre lot is being excavated.

 

Moore is one of 11 homeowners in the 30-year-old subdivision off Millikin Road where high lead levels were discovered last year. Three weeks ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began cleanup efforts in 6 of the 40 acres of the subdivision, the site of a skeet shooting range from 1963 to 1972.  Moore's property had the highest recorded lead level found, 91,500 parts per million. Anything above the federal standard of 400 parts per million for residential property is considered serious.

 

“Although he's had to keep his house closed while crews are working, Moore said he's not concerned about staying in his home during the cleanup.  "It doesn't worry me a bit," he said. "I'm glad they're taking it (soil) out. It's a mess. But they're doing an excellent job."  When Moore received the results from testing, he made sure his grandchildren stayed out of the yard. Soon, he's going to have blood tests done - and he's urging his two adult children to do the same - to make sure they don't have lead poisoning. His wife's test came back negative last week.

 

“The project is estimated to cost about $400,000 when it's completed in early June, said Steven Renninger, on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund Division.  Between 30 and 40 percent of the cleanup is finished. The soil is removed, treated and hauled away.  While work is continuing, air samples are taken daily. Samples of the remaining soil are sent to labs to make sure all contaminated soil has been removed before fresh soil is brought in and the area is reseeded, Renninger said.

 

Gun Club, State Sued Over Creek Cleanup,  Washington Post
Saturday, February 26, 2005; Page B03

 

“The Potomac Riverkeeper, an environmental group, filed a lawsuit yesterday contending that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources had not cleaned up a creek polluted with lead from a skeet-shooting range. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, concerns Montgomery County's Great Seneca Creek.

“In late 2003, the Riverkeeper organization said it discovered as much as three inches of lead shot that had accumulated at the creek bottom, apparently coming from the ranges of the National Capital Skeet & Trap Club.  The suit names the gun club, which has ceased its skeet shooting, and the state, which owns the land that the gun club is on.   A Natural Resources spokeswoman said that the department had not received the lawsuit and that it could not comment. Attempts to contact the gun club were unsuccessful

 

California Cities Clean Up Toxic Shooting Ranges, July 1, 2004

 

Chico and Santa Cruz, Calif., are setting aside money to clean up lead from bullets fired at shooting ranges that is posing a danger to soil, groundwater and wildlife, the Los Angeles Times reported June 22  [2004].

Chico officials have earmarked $1.6 million for a shooting-range cleanup, while Santa Cruz plans to spend $500,000.

The problem is being experienced nationwide, as well. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 4 percent of the 80,000 tons of all lead produced in the U.S. each year is from bullets and shotgun pellets fired at the country's 9,000 outdoor ranges.

Medical studies have found that bullet fragments leave behind dust particles that shooters may inhale or wildlife may ingest. Environmentalists are also concerned that the lead could reach drinking-water supplies.

In
California, storm runoff carried the contaminants to streams, wetlands, and bays, where more than a dozen endangered condors died from ingesting lead. "I would be the last one to say that every firing range is a problem, because that's not true," said Tom Diaz, who conducted a Violence Policy Center study on the health and environmental dangers of shooting ranges. "It's a problem that grows out of a couple of things -- people are ignorant or it's a mom-and-pop, local-club thing. People who open new ranges today are probably aware of the problem and do their best to keep them clean."

The issue has also been addressed by the U.S. Forest Service, which has written guidelines outlining how shooting ranges should be regulated, including environmental protection.

 

 

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Areas with high concentrations of lead shot, including public shooting ranges may pose significant threats to wildlife.  Biologists with the US Fish & Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office studied frog development on a shooting range near Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. Lead shot had accumulated over time, and was seeping into nearby wetlands. To determine if the wetlands were contaminated, biologists placed tadpoles in lead-contaminated soils and watched them as they grew. Biologists found that the frogs did not develop normally: their metamorphosis to adult form was either significantly slowed or stopped and many tadpoles had kinked tails. Biologists determined that the shooting range was highly contaminated, and needed to be cleaned up. Since the study was completed, the lead-contaminated soil was removed and the wetlands were restored.

For more information:

US Fish & Wildlife Service Amphibian Declines and Deformities
http://contaminants.fws.gov/Issues/Amphibians.cfm

 

 

 

 References

 

 

Cincinnati Enquirer, Lead Removal Begins in Lexington Manor.  April 28, 2004.

 

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Corrective Action at Outdoor Shooting Ranges Guidance Document.  January 2005.

 

Hui, Clifford A.  Lead Distribution Throughout Soil, Flora, and an Invertebrate at a Wetland Skeet Range, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 65: 1093-1107, 2002.

 

Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council, Environmental Management at Operating Outdoor Small Arms Firing Ranges.  February 2005.

 

N. C. Division of Waste Management, Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites Program, Guidelines for Assessment and Cleanup.  August 2004.

 

Sanborn, Wendy.  Lead Poisoning of North American Wildlife from lead Shot and Lead Fishing Tackle, HawkWatch International.

 

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation.  Directives and Standards ENV 02-07. 1996.

 

U. S. EPA, TRW Recommendations for Performing Human Health Risk Analysis on Small Arms Shooting Ranges.  March 2003.

 

U.S. EPA Region II, Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges.  January 2001 

http://www.epa.gov./region02/waste/leadshot/epa_bmp.pdf

 

 


SHOOTING RANGE NOISE POLLUTION

 

Background

 

Sound becomes noise when it detracts from quality of life.  Noise negatively affects human health and well-being.   Problems related to noise include hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, sleep loss, distraction and lost productivity, and a general reduction in the quality of life and opportunities for tranquility. 

 

The air into which second-hand noise is emitted and on which it travels is a “commons,” a public good.  It belongs to no one person or group, but to everyone.  People, businesses, and organizations, therefore, do not have unlimited rights to broadcast noise as they please as if the effects were limited only to their private property.  On the contrary, they have an obligation to use the commons in ways that are compatible with or do not detract from other uses.

 

People, businesses and organizations that disregard the obligation to not interfere with others’ use and enjoyment of the commons by producing noise pollution are, in many ways, acting like a bully in the school yard.  Although perhaps unknowingly, they nevertheless disregard the rights of others and claim for themselves rights that are not theirs.

 

Sound is the result of a fluctuation in pressure transmitted as a wave though the air.  Both the pitch and loudness of noise may be disturbing.  Noise is measured in units known as decibels (dB).  The decibel scale if logarithmic.  For example, going from zero to 10 decibels equates to a ten-fold increase in acoustic energy, while an increase of 20 decibels translates to a hundred-fold increase in sound energy. 

 

The effects of noise are determined mainly by the duration and level of the noise, but they are also influenced by the frequency.  Long-lasting high-level sounds are the most damaging to hearing and generally the most annoying.  The way sounds are distributed in time is also important, in that intermittent sounds appear to be somewhat less damaging to hearing than continuous sounds because of the ear’s ability to regenerate during the intervening quiet periods. However, the intermittent and impulsive sounds tend to be more annoying because of their unpredictability.  While the noise level itself can be measured, the physical and emotional effects of noise are difficult to define quantitatively.

 

Impact of Shooting Range Noise

 

The sound at the muzzle of a shotgun firing a typical clay shooting cartridge reaches some 140-150 decibels [dB(A), A=weighted scale to approximate human hearing for steady state noise].  For comparison, normal speech is around 50-60 dB(A), and clapping hands up to around 80 dB(A).  At one kilometer from a range, for example, the sound level can be 60-70 dB(A).  By comparison, the residential noise standard in many jurisdictions is 55 dB(A) or less.

 

Probably the greatest non-occupational hazard to hearing comes from sport shooting, with studies showing significantly greater hearing losses among sport-shooters than among their non-shooting counterparts.  These losses are almost always characterized by worse hearing in the left ear than the right.

 

Site Considerations

 

Whether operating an existing range or planning a new one, it is important to consider surrounding land uses and landowners.   A report issued by the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council, Environmental Management at Operating Outdoor Shooting Ranges, makes the following points about shooting range noise:

  • Particular care is needed with the local topography.  Hills and woods can reduce awareness of the range on neighboring land, but they can also reflect and increase sound levels.  
  • A common mistake is to assume too low a daily use of the range.  Predictions of future use should be based on the busiest days.
  • Shooting should be away from noise-sensitive premises.  This orientation can be difficult, though, as shooting is usually best facing north for favorable light conditions.

 

The National Shooting Sports Foundation in its manual on Environmental Aspects of Construction and Management of Outdoor Shooting Ranges identifies the following site considerations:

  • Site studies should carefully examine the natural features that tend to influence how sound carries.
  • Locations near present or anticipated future residential housing or other sound-sensitive areas should be selected for range construction/modification only if the range manager is fully prepared to deal with noise issues.
  • How noise will impact the perceived use or value of the adjoining property also should be evaluated.

 

Site Specific Issues

 

The noise that would be generated by a shotgun skeet shooting range is perhaps the foremost objection of most Tilley Creek residents.   The Moss Gap shooting range, located on National Forest Service land at the head of Tilley Creek, is almost two miles away from the proposed Smoke Rise Field Club site, but is audible throughout the upper Tilley Creek valley, including the proposed range site.  It should be noted that the Moss Gap prohibits shotguns which are, generally, much louder than rifles and handguns. 

 

The topography of the proposed shooting range site contributes to the noise nuisance problem for nearby residents.  Because shooting would occur near the floor of the valley, the noise generated would echo across the steep slopes of Tilley Creek valley.  Thirty-five homes are located within one-quarter mile of the range property, and homes within this zone would be adversely affected by shooting range noise.  Additionally, many more homes in excess of a quarter mile from the range property would be subject to objectionable noise levels. 

 

Shooting range noise would not only impair the ability of nearby residents to enjoy their homes, it would impair the marketability of those homes.  In the words of one local realtor, “a shooting range would have a disastrous effect on the marketability of nearby homes in the Tilley Creek community.”

 

Legal Issues

 

The general premise of the law of nuisance regulation is that no person is absolutely free to perform acts that others find offensive or that interfere with others’ right to safety and the quiet enjoyment of their own property.  As noted in one case, “literally, nuisance means annoyance, and in its broadest sense, it is that which annoys or gives trouble or vexation, that which is offensive or noxious; anything that works hurt, inconvenience or damage.  The term signifies in law such use of property or such course of conduct as, irrespective of actual trespass against others or of malicious or actual criminal intent, transgresses the just restrictions on use or conduct which the proximity of other persons or property in civilized communities imposes on what would otherwise be rightful freedom.”

 

A suit to abate a nuisance by means of an injunction generally requires that without the intervention of the injunction, the activity will be ongoing, and irreparable harm without a remedy compensible in money damage will occur.  Injunctions to abate such activity are granted only where necessary and where caution and judgment indicate to the trial judge that the exercise of the court’s discretion to grant the injunction is warranted by clear and convincing grounds.  Stated another way, an injunction will be issued only where there is no adequate remedy at law.

 

The North Carolina Sport Shooting Range Protection Act of 1997 (NCGS 14-409.45 et seq) exempted certain pre-existing ranges from civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation of the range.  Subsequently established ranges, though, may be subject to nuisance actions on the basis of noise or noise pollution and may be subject to rules adopted by any State department or agency for limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level that may occur in the outdoor atmosphere.   

 

The Jackson County Noise Ordinance, adopted in 1991 and amended in 1996 and 2003, prohibits “loud, raucous and disturbing noise” which “annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health, peace or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensibilities.”  Firearm noise is NOT exempted from provisions of the ordinance.  Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $50, and are declared to be a public nuisance, “subject to abatement summarily by a restraining order or injunction issues by a court of competent jurisdiction on motion or petition by any person.”

 

Case Histories

 

Fort Kent Shooting Range Approved Against Residents' Opposition, But Conditions May Make the Venture Too Expensive

PUBLICATION: Bangor Daily News
DATE:
November 5, 1999
The
Bangor Daily News reports that the Fort Kent Planning Board approved a proposed shooting range on a farm in the area. The range must meet National Rifle Association and National Skeet Shooting Association standards for shooting ranges, which could make the project too expensive. Residents oppose the range because they fear noise, safety, and pollution from lead pellets.

The article reports that the Fort Kent Planning Board approved a proposed shooting range on a farm in the area. Residents opposed the plan, presenting their comments, a 364-signature petition, and a statement delivered by a lawyer that they hired; they fear noise, safety, and problems that lead pellets could cause for the water supply and wildlife.

The article notes that one condition of the range was that it meet National Rifle Association and National Skeet Shooting Association standards for shooting ranges. The man who proposed the range -- Mr. Browne -- who lives twenty miles away and wouldn't be affected by any noise problems, said that sticking to those guidelines could make the project cost $300,000: too expensive for him.

The article notes that Browne had the site professionally tested for noise impacts, with the result that "noise levels were within Maine Department of Environmental Protection regulations." He also said that fallout areas for projectiles are farther away from homes than the 900 feet away required.

Georgia County Commission Decides to Test Noise Levels from Firing Range in Response to Resident Complaints

PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
DATE: October 23, 1997
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reports that Eugene Holder, a resident of Cobb County, Georgia, has been lobbying county officials to do something about the noise from a firing range that opened near his home three years ago. Last week,
Cobb County commissioners voted to spend $16,503 for experts to analyze how loud the gunfire is when it reaches Holder's neighborhood.

According to the article, the county moved its police firing range in 1994 from Pair Road off Powder Springs Road to off County Farm Road (now County Services Parkway) on land the county has owned for more than 50 years. After resident Holder complained about the noise from the range in 1994, the county commission spent less than $5,000 for a consultant to study the noise level and make recommendations for dampening it. In response to that study, a training building was constructed in 1996 which may deflect some of the noise. Officials want an updated study to find out if that is the case, the article explains. County Commissioner Woody Thompson, whose district includes Holder's land, said, "Obviously, if every complaint cost us that kind of money, we couldn't stay in business. This is somewhat unique. We only have one firing range. There's not a real quick solution to this. We can't stop training our officers." Earlier suggestions for solving the problem included an enclosed range and sound barriers made of mounds of dirt topped by trees or bushes. But, the article says, the suggestions cost up to $500,000, and were rejected. Recently, Commission Chair Bill Byrne asked that rifle and shotgun training be moved to the more remote Pitner Road landfill operated by the county.

The article goes on to explain that Eugene Holder bought his land 45 years ago, when there was no development in the immediate area. Over the decades, people, cars, and commerce have invaded the area, the article notes. But nothing disturbed Holder like the noisy gunfire that started within 1,200 feet of his 3-acre home when the firing range opened. Holder first approached the county commission in 1994, but came back in August to complain of inaction. At the August meeting, Holder played a cassette tape he said was recorded on his back porch of rapid gunfire. Cobb Public Safety Director Bob Hightower said of the tape, "When you're out there (at the range), it sounds more staccato, like firecrackers. What he played sounded more like artillery." Holder plans to play a new tape and present a petition signed by neighbors disturbed by the noise at an upcoming commission meeting. The article says some nearby neighbors are less concerned about the noise, but support Holder. Neighbor Janie Shirley said in August, "I hear it a good bit all the time, but me and my husband stay in the house with the air conditioning going. Sometimes it makes an awful racket." Holder said he is open to a county buyout, but he would rather live on his land. The article notes that the gunfire appears to be funneled into Holder's backyard by the land's topography, which includes a gully that comes up an embankment from the range into the backyard.

References

 

Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council, Environmental Management at Operating Outdoor Small Arms Firing Ranges.  February 2005.

 

Klein, Richard D.  Identifying and Resolving Quality of Life Issues.  Community and Environmental Defense Services, April 2005.

 

McCabe, Michael K. Range Operator Liability: Noise, Nuisance and Zoning, First National Shooting Range Symposium, 1990.

 

National Shooting Sports Foundation, Environmental Aspects of Construction and Management of Outdoor Shooting Ranges, 1997.

 

US EPA, Model Community Noise Control Ordinance, 1975.

 

 


SAFETY CONCERNS

 

Despite earlier comments to the contrary, Smoke Rise Field Club now reports that it will not construct rifle or pistol ranges.  For that reason, this assessment will not address the serious hazards posed by such activities.

 

OSHA Provisions

 

Safety is a concern for shooters, firearms instructors, and other range employees who can be exposed to significant levels of lead dust and fumes.  Protecting the health of range employees and shooters, while minimizing environmental contamination from lead exposures, is an important element in the safety plan for ranges.  Range operators are required to protect workers from overexposure by following the recommendations and requirements, where applicable, of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is charged to protect employee health and safety in the workplace. 

 

OSHA has a comprehensive lead regulation, 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 19190.1025.  This standard defines the legal responsibilities to limit exposure to lead, provide protective equipment and hygiene facilities, maintain a clean workplace, and provide employees with safety training and medical care.  The lead standard also establishes a limit on the amount of lead that can be in the air workers breathe.  Failure to comply with the requirements of the lead standard could result in fines to a business.

 

Liability Insurance

 

An informal review of liability insurance coverage carried by similar gun clubs indicates that $1,000,000 is commonly recognized as a appropriate amount of coverage.  For that reason, it is an issue of concern that Smoke Rise Field Club has announced its intention to carry only $100,000 of coverage.  Insurance professionals consulted on this point indicate that $100,000 is far too small an amount of liability insurance coverage for an enterprise of this nature.

 

Alcohol Consumption

 

Alcohol consumption is another safety concern that has been identified by Tilley Creek residents.  Most public shooting ranges have strict policies prohibiting alcohol.  However, reports indicate that as a “private social club” Smoke Rise Field Club does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol on range property.  Indeed, one Franklin businessman who had been a guest of the club described it as a place “to fire off a few shots and drink a few cocktails.”  If alcohol is consumed prior to, or during, shooting activities this is a major safety issue.  Shooting range and firearm industry spokesmen repeat the message that “firearms and alcohol do not mix.”  Current residents have expressed concerns that alcohol consumption on the proposed Smoke Rise Field Club premises would increase the likelihood of impaired drivers on Tilley Creek Road, posing an intolerable hazard to those residents who live and drive in the community on a regular basis.

 

 

 


PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Hundreds of citizens have signed petitions to express their concerns about the negative impacts of unregulated shooting ranges becoming established in unsatisfactory locations.  The following public comments are excerpts from letters to the Sylva Herald, the Smoky Mountain News and the Crossroads Chronicle, and to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, and are included to reflect the range of concerns expressed about the activities proposed by Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc.

 

There is a striking difference between most of us in Jackson County and those pushing through this disastrous land scheme in a residential community. We don’t need a regulation or a moratorium to prevent us from using our property to hurt our neighbors.  We just treat each other with respect because it is the right thing to do. When we are faced with the predatory actions of a few intolerant people who lack any real concern for the community, then it is time for our government to force these people to do the right thing. It is often said that you cannot legislate morality, but this is different. A moratorium would demonstrate that, if necessary, you can legislate courtesy.

If our commissioners miss this opportunity to protect the powerless on Tilley Creek, then no one in
Jackson County will be safe from the next well-financed nuisance to sneak into another neighborhood in the dead of the night. As the population of Jackson County expands, we must become increasingly vigilant against threats to our common good. Now is the time that we must demand our elected representatives carefully use the power of the law to shield our good neighbors from this unprovoked and vicious attack from a handful of insensitive people. The cold winds of change are blowing hard through Jackson County. My hope is that our government braces firmly against it. If not, we may not like what is left after the storm.

Mark Melrose
Cullowhee

 

I live on Pressley Creek Road in Cullowhee.  My property adjoins the former Pressley property, currently owned by Sam Matthews, on the north side of Tilley Creek Road.  It has come to my attention that Smoke Rise Field Club of Cashiers has entered into negotiations with Matthews to purchase his property for the purpose of establishing an outdoor shooting range.

I am a gun owner and a member of the NRA and have been for decades. I am a firm supporter of the Second Amendment to the Constitution and the right of American citizens to keep and bear arms. I believe by the very nature of the proposed shooting range that (gun club developers) feel as I do about the exercise of our rights.  I therefore ask them to give long and careful consideration to the negative impact that moving forward with this plan will have on all of us 70 million gun owners in the United States.

Smoke Rise officials have an opportunity to show the public that we gun owners are in fact responsible and concerned members of the community and that we are sensitive to the rights of the rest of our neighbors, not the false image that some people try to paint us – a bunch of self-absorbed, booze-swilling louts who want to endanger the public and the environment with their lunatic activities. If the last part of that sentence offends gun club owners, they need to get used to it because that is the image we will come away with.

Smoke Rise officials should do the right thing, do the responsible thing, do the smart thing and withdraw the Tilley Creek location from your consideration.

Louis Spagna
Cullowhee

 

I believe in property rights and so I am ashamed and offended when I hear someone claim the protection of those rights without acceptance of the responsibilities that support those rights. Property rights do not exist within a vacuum of self-interest they thrive only in the context of community interest. Too often property rights arguments have been used to assert a right to pure selfish interest without regard for community. Property rights are cited as an argument for unrestrained greed. The protection of property rights is often claimed as a protection of the little man so it is ironic that the greatest beneficiaries of property rights organizations and the legal action they initiate are often large development corporations.

Some have argued that the controversy involving residents on Tilley Creek and the Smoke Rise Field Club is an issue of property rights. Smoke Rise, we are told, is being deprived of their property rights. They have a right to buy property and use it any way they see fit regardless of the impact on the surrounding community. They have no obligation as the new neighbor to accommodate anyone. It is interesting that some of the folks making that argument are some of the most vocal in decrying outsiders who have come to these mountains with no respect for tradition and community. Apparently telling others how they should live is acceptable in some circumstances.

I believe in property rights. I have stood for them in more than one fight in this county. This has nothing to do with property rights. This is about a group that has the money and resources to purchase a piece of property deciding that that is sufficient reason to allow them to impose their will upon their neighbors. This isn’t about rights, it is about the exercise of selfish interest without respect or regard for the concerns of others.

Mark Jamison
Cullowhee

 

As a member of an old and lovely mountain cove community not too far from Tilley Creek, I write to oppose the Smoke Rise Gun Club and to support any form of county intervention to prevent this and other forms of serious nuisance from threatening innocent homeowners countywide.

Even some opponents have said that appropriate places exist for such activity. I disagree.

Western North Carolina seems bigger than it is due to dense forests, imposing ridges and deep valleys. However, few tracts of land are large enough to contain the silence-shattering, nerve-wracking and peace-ending sound of all-day repetitive gunfire. A homeowner should be able to sit on a deck, walk in the woods, sleep in a bedroom with the windows open, or eat an afternoon meal without enduring the constant bark of small arms or the ongoing bangs of distant shotguns.

As a native of our southern foothills and mountains and as a homeowner in Jackson County, I do believe in property rights and also support gun ownership as a privilege that should be maintained. However, the owner and members of Smoke Rise and similar interests must recognize that when their activity threatens the right of their neighbors to enjoy their own homes, then it becomes abusive, un-neighborly and downright wrong.

Faced with so much concern and anguish from the good folk in this community, these people should either change their intentions or move far away from our mountains to someplace else, where peace, beauty, privacy, serenity, generosity and goodwill among neighbors are not so highly regarded. County interference shouldn’t be necessary, but I hope our representative government steps up in the face of this threat.

Mike Despeaux
Cullowhee

 

In the April 7 issue of The Sylva Herald, Mr. Barry Moore, president of the Smoke Rise Field Club, which plans to construct a shooting range in the midst of the Tilley Creek community, was quoted in a news article as saying “It’s amazing all the lies (those opposed to the proposed range on Tilley Creek) are telling.”

As a lifelong resident of Tilley Creek who opposes the planned shooting range, and as one who spoke briefly before the Board of Commissioners on April 4, it would appear that Mr.. Moore is calling me a liar, as well as all the other neighbors and good folks who expressed their heartfelt views.

In addition, if the members of Smoke Rise allow him to make such false charges and do not insist that he apologize, we will then know just what kind of people they are. So far, most of the 120 or so members have not been identified; though Mr. Moore has stated (in the Cashiers Crossroads Chronicle) that they want to be “good neighbors” in the Tilley Creek community, a list of these members has not been revealed. What kind of “neighbors” cloak themselves in secrecy and anonymity? Mr. Moore, it is time to let us know who our “neighbors” are going to be. If they have nothing to hide, if they are not ashamed of being members of Smoke Rise, if they truly want to be good neighbors, don’t you think it is time for them to show their faces?

David L. Fox
Cullowhee

 

A shooting range is not part of my Appalachian heritage, and I don’t know many who would consider it such.   This shooting range issue is not about our heritage. Just the irresponsible lack of concern for neighbors is enough to make my father turn over in his grave. We considered each other’s welfare in our mountain communities.

All of what’s going on now is showing a lack of respect for neighbors, something my Appalachian family would have never done. Guns were a necessary part of our heritage, but today their use is only for a sport that throws toxins into the mountains and hurts the future of our children. Any responsible elected official should not allow this to happen to our communities.

Doreyl Cain
Tuckasegee



One good thing may have come from the controversy over the proposed gun club and shooting range on Tilley Creek Road: It has sparked an interest in the old Pressley farm.
After attending the county commissioners’ meeting March 7, I took the time to find the property and was very impressed with the condition of the buildings and the potential of this landmark property. I agree the place should be a museum. I would like to enlist the interest of others who may feel as I do.

Although I no longer hunt, I used to shoot skeet and trap in my younger days and can appreciate the desire for such a facility and would not oppose one in the right location.
However, I think it would be wrong to build it on or near this unique example of a turn-of-the-century Appalachian home site. I doubt if there is another like it in
Western North Carolina.

Let us come together and find the funds to restore this property to its former condition and use it as a living example of how
Jackson County used to be.  In my travels I have enjoyed and learned from visits to many restored sites. I think if an effort were made, the old Pressley farm could put Jackson County on the map and bring more tourists interested in learning about our mountain heritage.
 
Harold Sims
Cullowhee

 

 

I read with interest … regarding the shooting range concern in Tilley Creek.  It is a travesty for existing residents to have to face the prospect of continuous, aggravating gun noise that will only make their very day-to-day existence a dismal, painful nightmare.

 

Enough is enough.  Who is lobbying for the common citizen?  I strongly urge the citizens of Tilley Creek to fight this with every fiber of their being and caution them to watch their backs.  Keep a watchful eye on the North Carolina statehouse and their gun lobby friends.

 

Rick Wiegand

Brighton, Michigan

 

 

If implemented improperly, shooting ranges can cause a major sound disturbance to their neighbors, and can dispense a significant amount of lead in the environment that could affect many residents down stream of a shooting range.  For example, today a shooting range could open up near a residential neighborhood, locate its shooting stations right next to existing house, church or business, could operate any time of day, and could build up a harmful amount of lead over the years.  Such a nuisance could force a business to close or relocate, disrupt church services, or cause residents undue stress or to have to relocate.  If a business or resident were to need to relocate, they might not be able to get a fair market value for their property.  Unfortunately, our existing noise ordinance does not address the potential noise problem.  While a shooting range could be implemented to minimize its impact on neighbors and the environment, it is not required to do so.

 

Sam and Lisa Mathews

Cullowhee, NC

 

It’s ironic that those who champion local prerogative the most are actually doing so to further the interests of those who would turn Jackson County into one big real estate listing without regard or respect for local culture, local communities or local heritage. 

Those who have championed property rights loudest will find in the not too distant future that those rights exist only for those who have the money and power to control and dictate to others. Those who bemoan the fact that “you can’t get up into the mountains anymore” have done so in the service of the very ones that would gate and exclude.

Mark Jamison
Cullowhee

 

It makes me sad to see all of the places lost that I remember from my younger years but I am happy for those that benefit from all of the growth. However, town leaders should bear in mind that not all residents benefit and not all residents are happy with so many changes being forced on them. Not everyone wants to be incorporated into the township, not everyone wants a shooting range in their backyard and not everyone wants to fight the crowds to pick up a box of nails to build a privacy fence. Don’t destroy completely those things which make Sylva and Jackson County unique just for the sake of a few dollars. And please consider the “little people” when making decisions that affect all citizens of Jackson County not just the “big wigs” who profit from the land sales or tax revenues.

Teresa Frizzell Demas
Fairbanks,
Alaska

 

 

We previously owned a vacation home in Swain County for three years while looking for a tract of land on which to build.  After two years we purchased our 90 acres of pristine woods on Tilley Creek.  This property was chosen over many others because of the proximity of WCU, Sylva, trout streams and other amenities.  Our intention is to keep the 90 acres intact, only allowing our two married children to build there some day, if they wish.  We are “outdoor” people and feel very strongly about the habitats on the property and opposed the expected noise pollution and the environmental impact a gun club would create.  Anything the Jackson County Commissioners could do to stop this development would be greatly appreciated.

 

Lee and Karen Chapman

Cullowhee, NC


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

 

The National Association of Shooting Ranges and all similar industry organizations emphasize the importance of environmental stewardship in the establishment and operation of shooting ranges.  An Environmental Stewardship Plan, or ESP, is a written plan or “road map” for planning, implementing and monitoring the progress of environmental management and improvements at a shooting range.

 

Site-specific ESPs are encouraged by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Association of Shooting Ranges, the National Rifle Association and the United States Environmental Protection Agency as the best and most cost-effective way to minimize the potential for environmental issues that could adversely affect a range.

 

Had Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc. made a good faith effort to develop an environmental stewardship plan for the Tilley Creek property, they would have been forced to come to the same conclusion as that reached by this report:  the Tilley Creek site is, for multiple reasons, wholly unsuitable for a shotgun skeet shooting range.

 

  • The proposed shooting range would inflict serious adverse effects upon current and future residents of the Tilley Creek community.

 

  • The Tilley Creek site does not match well with any of the environmental factors which should be looked at when locating a trap and skeet shooting range.

 

  • The physical characteristics of the property contribute to high risk factors for lead contamination of surface and ground water, and to the difficulty of implementing an effective program of lead removal and recycling.

 

  • The proximity of Tilley Creek and numerous tributaries to the proposed shooting range activity is a major concern.

 

  • A complicating factor for establishing a shooting range on the Tilley Creek property is the fact that it has been identified as a Native American archaeological site.

 

  • The Breedlove Road site abandoned by Smoke Rise has not been assessed and remediated in a manner consistent with the principles of environmental stewardship.

 

  • Noise generated by the proposed shooting range would echo across the steep slopes of Tilley Creek valley and would have a disastrous effect on the livability and marketability of homes throughout the community.

 

  • Smoke Rise Field Club, Inc. proposes a totally inadequate amount of liability insurance coverage for their planned enterprise.

 

  • Alcohol consumption by Smoke Rise members and guests would pose significant safety problems both on and off the range property.

 

In conclusion, the only sensible and responsible course of action would be for Smoke Rise Field Club to abandon its plans to acquire the Tilley Creek property for a shooting range, and to seek a more appropriate location for its proposed activities.  Today’s citizens of Tilley Creek and Jackson County, and the future generations, deserve nothing less.