COLUMBIA COUNTY (WKOW) – The public had an opportunity Thursday to weigh in on the proposed building of a public gun range.
The DNR is hoping to build a gun range in the Mud Lake Wildlife Area, in the Town of Lowville. The agency believes there's a demand for the range.
The call for a shooting range came after the DNR said it received complaints of people target shooting in public, wildlife lands in Columbia County. That led to complaints regarding noise and littering.
On Thursday night, the DNR held an open house followed by a formal, public hearing at the law enforcement center in Portage.
Opinions among those in attendance were mixed.
“I'm beyond excited,” said Dennis Annen, who currently target shoots on his own property.
“This is not about me, it's about people of the state who need a place to shoot,” Annen said. “If you have to go out to a gravel pit, or to a public, hunting ground to shoot, it's dangerous. It's not safe.”
Annen said he lives roughly 5-thousand feet from the proposed range.
Eric Olmsted said he lives about one mile away from the same site.
“I'm against it,” Olmsted said. “This is supposed to be an unmanned site. So with no one out there to control it all, chaos is going to rule.”
“The people that live closer to it, I really feel sorry for them,” Olmsted said. “They're going to hear the shooting all the time.”
Eric Lobner, the DNR's Regional Wildlife Program Supervisor for Wisconsin's south central region, said the agency will eventually present a proposal to construct the range, as well as a report detailing the environmental impact of building it, to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.
Should the board give the DNR permission to continue with the planning, Lobner said the agency would finish designing the range with the hope of beginning construction in roughly a year.
Lobner said he hopes the gun range will be open and running by late summer 2016.