DNR shooting range construction funding gets nod from trust fund board

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recently recommended funding a Department of Natural Resources project to develop a public shooting range in Sands Township in Marquette County.

DNR staffers have been working with local units of government, residents and non-government partners to consider over a dozen potential range locations in the county over the past decade.

The proposed site for the range is located along County Road 480, about two miles northwest of the M-553 intersection on property owned by the Marquette County Road Commission.

The recommendation to approve $225,000 for the project by the trust fund board marks a pivotal step in the future success of this financial investment to the sporting community.

“We are thrilled that the trust fund board has recommended the Marquette Firing Range for funding,” said Stacy Welling Haughey, DNR Upper Peninsula regional coordinator, in a news release. “We are now looking forward to continuing to work with local government on the next steps to develop what will be the first public DNR shooting range in the Upper Peninsula.”

The funding recommendation, which was part of $40.3 million in outdoor recreation development project and acquisition grants, will now be reviewed by the state Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder for final approval.

The firing range will meet National Rifle Association and Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and offer a safe, accessible shooting opportunity for residents and visitors.

“The next step in developing the range will be to seek support for the project through the Sands Township zoning process,” said Lori Burford, DNR shooting range and facilities specialist, in a news release. “Following the outcome of that application process, the DNR will seek public input on range design later in 2018, with a goal of completing the project construction during the summer of 2019.”

Over the past year, extensive sound testing was conducted during the site selection process.

“With the years of consistent illegal shooting in the area, the new DNR range should actually reduce the level of whatever gunfire may be heard now,” Haughey said.

The total estimated project cost is about $900,000, with the DNR expecting the remainder of project funds to be obtained through a grant from the NRA and matching money already approved from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

“State-of-the-art safety features, sound and lead abatement and providing users with proper accessibility all factor into this price tag,” Haughey said.

For more information on this firing range project or to provide input, call Burford at 989-600-9114.

For more information on the DNR’s public shooting ranges in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at www.michigan.gov/ shootingranges.