NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 22, 2011

Seabrook debates opening gun range

SEABROOK — In New Hampshire, hunting is a way of life and an important part of the state culture, but liability and safety concerns have Seabrook selectmen pondering if, or how best, they can reopen the town's popular shooting range.

Actually located just over the border in Kensington on land Seabrook owns, the range is within the town's well fields and water protection area on the west side of town off Route 107. Open for decades, the firing range has been closed for the most part over the past two years while Seabrook's new water treatment plant was built, open only on the weekends by special arrangement. Prior to its closing, however, the range was well used, not only by hunters for practice and to sight their guns each season, but by area police departments to ensure they meet firearms qualifications, as well as by military reservists and gun enthusiasts.

With the construction of the water treatment plant complete, selectmen have been peppered with requests to open the shooting range. The town hired a consultant to advise on the issue. At their recent meeting, selectmen heard from engineer Adam Last, of Corporate Environmental Advisors.

Last said that although most of the spent ammunition left behind by shooters is mostly made of lead, there is not a likely probability that the lead and arsenic contained in the bullets and skeet shot will be dissolved by moisture or rain and filter down into the groundwater, polluting the town's drinking water. However, Last said, there are a number of issues that should be addressed to ensure safety.

Last found that a network of off-road vehicle trails exists in the area, whose riders regularly crisscross the well fields and shooting range. Keeping riders away from the well fields has been a problem for the town for years, but since the range has been closed, riders have increased their activity with no one to stop them.

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