Plans for first UP shooting range good for region

If all goes to plan, Sands Township will be the site of the first public shooting range in the Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources had been looking into constructing and operating such a range for some time. Its first official attempt to get one OK’d failed to get past the Sands Township Board in June, which didn’t approve a rezoning of land.

However, the Sands Township Planning Commission on Monday gave the go-ahead for a special-use permit for a parcel of land leased by Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. located off Marquette County Road 480 headed west of the crossroads with M-553.

With the sounds of gunfire and lead casings potential problems, some people were understandably worried, particularly the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter. UPAWS in January moved to its new location in the township off M-553, which — although is some distance away from the site of the new range — is close enough for some concern to be justifiable.

However, the DNR promised that the range would have sound and environmental abatement.

The planning commission was wise to set up a long list of conditions for the range, which include staffing during open hours, removing lead casings daily, fencing in the range and abiding by township noise and nuisance ordinances.

A follow-up is to be made within 18 months as well.

The DNR has met with the community to address its needs, and is expected to continue to do so.

The Upper Peninsula is rich in hunting tradition, and that tradition involves the use of firearms. The Negaunee Rod and Gun Club allows shooting, but it’s a private facility.

The Sands Township range would be public, and would give people the chance to practice their shooting skills in an organized manner.

Financing shouldn’t be an issue since the DNR has state and federal grants earmarked to fund the Sands Township range, which has a price tag of about $800,000.

The township and the residents have a right to a pleasant environment, which involves decent noise levels and clean groundwater.

People also want to take part in their favorite forms of recreation.

Since firearms involve a special set of circumstances, we hope the DNR continues to be prudent in making the range safe and properly maintained.

The Sands Township shooting range could be a model of such a public facility.