Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sarasota County to consider Private Shooting Range in Public Pinelands Reserve

via Andy Mele: (snipped in places):

Next Tuesday there is a Sarasota County Commission meeting to discuss re-zoning 44 acres of conservation lands in the Pinelands Reserve so that a private shooting range, blasting lead shot and PAH-laden so-called clay pigeons across the countryside, can be established. If this goes forward uncontested, the way will be clear for the rezoning, reclassification, recertification, re-what-have-you of any conservation lands in the county. The County is nominally the applicant, a feeble stab at establishing a public benefit component to this flagrant privatization of public land. I urge you all, and anyone else you can bring, to join me at this meeting to speak our piece.

What is our piece, exactly? There are two parts:

1. First, and most important, is the precedent this will set if it is allowed to move forward. All the protections afforded to Conservation Lands will have been swept aside, and pieces will be carved out until the county is unrecognizable
Voters again and again taxed themselves to conserve natural lands. The purpose of conservation land, (the Pinelands Reserve is listed, page 3-39, LMP) is "for the conservation of Sarasota County’s natural heritage.” (see below, LMP, page 3-15)

Pinelands Reserve, Sarasota County
2/ Second, to legally get this ill-considered measure through, the County will have to argue that the gun range is an environmentally benign activity. Here's why that argument falls apart before it even starts:
1. Lead shot. Nationwide, 9,000 gun ranges shoot 100-150 million pounds of lead shot every year. While best management calls for periodic soil scraping, separation of the lead, and then replacement of the soil, many ranges have always left the lead in place, and continue to do so.
There are three sources of lead in humans. Paint, dust & soil, and drinking water. Two of those three are present at a shooting range.
Lead shot oxidizes and becomes water soluble. In that state, it will attach to molecules in storm water, and migrate into both ground water and surface waters used for drinking. Florida's sandy soil is highly conducive to this migration.
2. Clay pigeons. These targets are not clay any more, but are made of some 30% petroleum pitch or coal tar products. They contain such high loads of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that UK oil seed farmers have filed injunctions against farmers shooting skeet over oil seed fields. Very high levels of PAH in the oil seed resulted in thousands of tons of the agricultural product being incinerated as hazardous waste, at great expense. Remington. a major manufacturer of targets, claims on the box that they do not biodegrade. Gun magazine blogs say that the best way to get rid of the shattered targets is to crush them with your boots or run over them with your ATV until they are reduced to grit.
A single firing position will contaminate 2-5 acres. Most ranges have several firing positions. The clay target fragments are found in a fan shape 65'-250' from the firing position. Lead shot accumulates in a fan 375'- 600' out.
So far, only wild pigs have been observed eating the targets and gradually becoming sick. That said, EPA risk assessment has been performed for the humans who use or live near these facilities, and the results indicate significant risks to human health.
Please join me at the Board of County Commissioners meeting. Register to speak. If someone steals your thunder, or you change your mind, you are not obligated to speak. But this is a bad one. I hope to see you there.


Editor's Note: See also Jono Miller's Blog Post about this issue.

The County has a brochure about the Birds of the Pineland Reserve.

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