Oconto Co. shooting range still closed

Oconto Co. shooting range still closed

OCONTO COUNTY- An Oconto County shooting range will stay shut down, for now. It's had issues with stray bullets.

[caption id="attachment_29517" align="alignright" width="300"] The Machickanee Forest Shooting Range is temporarily closed, Friday, May 2, 2014. (WLUK/Ben Krumholz)[/caption]

The range is in the town of Morgan.

The county forestry and sheriff's departments decided to temporarily shut down the range last week.

That's because of complaints about rapid gunfire coming from the range.

Some people said bullets were coming through their yards.

Before that, some neighbors say stray bullets damaged their property.

County leaders talked about the future of the range Thursday.

The Oconto County Parks Committee says it is listening to every idea on how to improve safety at the Machickanee shooting range.

“We're going to look at moving the range, closing it, restricting the hours, doing all the safety things,” said Oconto County Parks Administrator Robert Skalitzky.

Oconto County residents who came to the meeting varied on what should be done.

“One of the main things is I think could happen is a live streaming wireless web cam that could stream to the sheriff's department or the deputy on duty that if someone calls with a complaint they can go immediately to the camera,” said Chuck Pansier, who lives and hunts in Oconto County.

“I don't even think that they should have an outdoor range, period,” said Alice Moes, who owns a vacation home near the range. “At the range they do not have people out there shooting responsibly.”

The county says full-time officers patrolling the area are too pricey.

“We have looked at retired people going out there, whether officers or just members of the public,” said Skalitzky.

Oconto County officials say a shooting range expert with the DNR will come out here on May 22 to survey the area, and see what changes could be made to make the range safer. But changes won't come quickly.

“Currently we do have a grant now from the Wisconsin DNR to do the improvements to a 25 yard range though now we are looking to shorten that range, so it’s for pistols,” said Skalitzky.

That grant totals around $7,000. Oconto County says it also currently has $70,000 in a fund from shooting range fees to use towards the renovations.

The county may also raise admission fees and shorten range hours. But, that will require an ordinance change, which could take three months.