Shooting park can reopen firing lanes
05/31/2012, 7:23 pm
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Steve Stout, [email protected]
Buffalo Range Shooting Park can immediately reopen most firing lanes for the first time since March.
Following weeks of discussions between Illinois Attorney General lawyers and range attorneys and days of courtroom hearings about firing lines and safety issues, a La Salle County judge Thursday announced "a resolution between all parties has been reached."
Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Eugene Daugherity sanctioned a preliminary injunction order that modifies a March 15 temporary restraining order that has kept the 41-year-old shooting range business from opening this season.
With some limitations, the new order allows the range to immediately reopen most, but not all, firing lines.
State attorneys, working on behalf of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, began proceedings against the shooting range earlier in the year, citing reports of stray bullets from visitors walking and biking in nearby recreational areas.
The order requires the range's popular "plinking pit" remain completely closed until further order of the court. It does not specify any possible improvements that could reopen it except for allowing a third-party neutral consultant to conduct a safety and design evaluation for compliance with a 2007 court order.
The new order stipulates Evelyn Muffler, president of Buffalo Range, must make and maintain various safety improvements on certain shooting areas. These improvements all must be certified by a licensed land surveyor before commencement of operations at those sites. The specified areas and new requirements at the gun range include:
The 100-yard rifle range's backstop (berm) at the 50- and 75-yard target sites must be maintained up to or exceeding a 20-foot height.
The auxiliary rifle range's backstop (berm) must be maintained up to or exceeding a 16-foot height.
The range cannot allow the discharge of any .50 caliber firearms or cartridges on the property.
All open firing lines must have range safety officers on duty whenever shooters are present.
The order also states each side must bear its own costs from the litigation proceedings.
Phone calls to range officials to learn when the business might officially reopen were not returned by press time.