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Shooters still hoping military will reopen Miramar range

By Ed Zieralski - The San Diego Union

Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 6:05 p.m.

It’s been more than two years since the Marines, citing environmental concerns, ordered a cease fire and closed the civilian shooting range located in a crash zone on the south side of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

Officials from the San Diego Shotgun Sports Association, which has leased the shotgun-only range since 2000, say the closure has impacted thousands of shooting enthusiasts and hunters in the county.

The range has been home to Olympic shooting hopefuls such as Susan Sledge and Brian Burrows, high school shooting sports programs, competitive trap and skeet shooters and groups such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America Association, churches and Boy Scouts.

Recent developments indicate an announcement is expected soon from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on the future of the range, which has been the subject of environmental studies on vernal pools, fairy shrimp and possible lead contamination.

After a review of the studies and other assessments — which was requested by Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Alpine, in an amendment to a defense authorization bill — Gen. James T. Conway, Marine Corps commandant, is expected to pass on the final recommendation to Mabus.

Marines at Miramar refused to comment on the issue. A call to Marine Corps headquarters in Washington was not returned.

Meantime, the San Diego Shotgun Sports Association awaits the decision.

“We’re not sure what the recommendation is from the Marines, but we’ve come up with alternative plans for whatever the decision is,” said Robert Keefe, the association’s president. “We’re ready to stay, clean up the lead and maintain the shooting range at Miramar. But right now we’re in a holding pattern until we see what the recommendation is.”

Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Hunter, said the congressman is aware of three scenarios being considered by the Marines and each was “undesirable.” Kasper said the scenarios either recommend closure of the range or propose further delays that will lead to a closure.

But Keefe said no one really knows what is in the recommendation in front of Conway.

Kasper said no matter what happens at the Pentagon, Hunter has several options that include meeting with Mabus in an effort to persuade him not to close the range.

“Without the Secretary of Navy’s approval of the plan, it can’t be approved,” Kasper said.

Kasper said if Conway recommends the range be closed and Mabus approves it, another option for Hunter would be to change the language in the defense authorization bill early next year requiring that the Marines reopen the range.

While awaiting a decision, Keefe said the San Diego Shotgun Sports Association has a plan that will save the military more than $11 million to clean up the lead that is on the range and its perimeter. In recent years, as part of its lease, the association had been collecting and recycling lead in compliance with its required Lead Management Plan. The association has a letter of support from the Environmental Protection Agency saying its Lead Management Plan complies with lease requirements for gun ranges.

Kasper said he has seen reports indicating the cleanup of lead at the Miramar range will cost the government, or whoever does it, between $8 million and $20 million. Keefe said he has proposed that the range be opened to allow the Shotgun Sports Association to keep shooting and to clean up the lead on its own and save the government millions of dollars.

“Our course of action allows us to stay here and save the Marines $11 million in fees to get rid of the lead,” Keefe said. “They’ve already spent $300,000 just on their studies, and they expect to spend another $500,000 or more on studies that will take two years to complete.”

Keefe said membership in the Shotgun Sports Association was more than 750 when the range was running but is down to 450 now that it’s closed.

Civilian shooting on military bases in the county began in 1945 when an original range was built on North Island.

The Navy hosted a range on Miramar as far back as 1957. In 1974, the range was moved to its current site on the south side of the base.
 

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I moved from San Diego in 2001 and this issue had been going on for years before that. As a matter of fact, from the day the Marines took over the base from the Navy, they (Marines) said from the first day they were going to shut the range down, and eventually they did. Does anyone really believe they will reopen it? Good luck. Never happen.
 

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I would hope some of the shooters have contacted their Congressman. A call from a congressional office can solve many local problems. Each Congressman has at least one full time staff member who does nothing but influence local decisions.

Pat Ireland
 

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Pat:

Congressman Duncan Hunter has been involved with this issue for some time. He has been a staunch supporter of this facility. Sadly I believe its a dead issue. The Marines don't want civilians running around "their" base.
 

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As well the trap range in San Clemente has recently been shut down by the Marines. So it appears that the Marines are taking out their EPA problems on the shooting public. I would think the only answer to this issue is to relocate the range to a more shooter friendly area other than on Military property. Any body got any land in San Diego they want to donate to the cause?
 

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First the range is not on the base, but on a strip of land. If you have followed the process, the Marines are not against the facilty as General Jackson, commandant of Marines west has said get it open. This has turned into a eviromental hot issue and according to some close to it there should be a decision within the next two weeks.

Clyde
 

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Official decision to close range permanently apparently announced.

See the attached link to a 5.30pm story in the San Diego Union Tribune Frday 10/15

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/oct/15/marines-order-shotguns-silenced-forever-miramar-ci/
 

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I hate to say this, but I told everyone this would happen the day we found out the Marines were taking over Miramar. To bad, it was a great place to shoot. Well, I'm glad I moved.
 

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This should be a lesson to all gun clubs. You need to have a written lead abatement plan on file with the Feds and the local Environmental people. Having such a plan and executing it properly will slow the "greenies" down and might even stop the action. Both the clubs I belong to have them. See the EPA website for further information.

TB
 

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TB, Good idea, Some years back I try-ed to get the CG STA in our state to get a file together for the various gun clubs. This was just when all this lead shot stuff was starting up. It never happened. I guess no one thought it would come to this. Shooters cant afford to lose any more clubs.Especially here in California.
 
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