DNR sets its sight on informal gun ranges

The DNR will be holding public meetings on informal shooting ranges near Traverse City.

The Department of Natural Resources will be holding public meetings on informal shooting ranges near Traverse City.

The Hoosier Valley area in Blair Township has been used as an unofficial gun range since 1960.

The state forest land is a popular place to practice for a full spectrum of gun owners, from those sighting in deer rifles to those recreationally shooting at exploding targets and using semi-automatic firearms.

The popularity has also brought some concern from area residents who say noise, safety, road congestion and litter is a growing problem.

"Numerous citizen reports of shooting at all hours, explosions, trash dumping and roads being impacted all clearly indicate that we need to address the situation. The public meeting will allow us to hear directly from all those involved," said Dave Lemmien, Traverse City unit manager with the DNR's Forest Resources Division, tasked with land administration duties for the area. "I expect that we will hear from those who support keeping the area open to shooting as well as those who want to see the area closed."

The DNR will meet with community members about the issue. Public comments will be taken on the Hoosier Valley ranges Thursday, June 6 at 6:30pm. The meeting will take place at the Blair Township Hall, located at 2121 County Road 633 in Grawn.

Several options for addressing public concerns are being considered, one of which is a set of interim rules for this area that may designate shooting hours, types of targets permissible and types of firearms allowed, among other things.

These rules are only in the draft stage and will be presented for public comment. A long-term permanent solution is being sought, and will be discussed at the meeting.