Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Residences within 1/2 mile of Sandy Hollow

The NRA recommends that shooting ranges be built in an area where there is 1/2 mile or more to the nearest residence. This map shows (in black) the approximately 25 houses, apartments, and businesses within a 1/2 mile of Sandy Hollow (proposed shooting range shown in yellow).

Exposure to noise can cause sleep disruption, increased stress hormones, higher blood pressure, and hearing loss. When describing the health effects of noise, the World Health Organization's "Guidelines for Community Noise" states:
Stronger reactions have been observed when noise is accompanied by vibrations and contains low- frequency components, or when the noise contains impulses, such as with shooting noise.

This means that impulse noises such as gunshots have a stronger effect (even physically) on people than the rumble of aircraft, traffic, or a talking crowd at the same decibel level.

Although the Sioux County Planning and Zoning Committee has voted approval of the planned shooting range, it is important that Sioux County residents (or frequent visitors such as myself) get involved in the effort to halt the plan.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Flood pictures at Sandy Hollow

At the proposed Sandy Hollow shooting ranges, 15-30 tons of lead shot would be deposited on the ground each year. The DNR plans to clean up the lead every several years. However, as you can see in these pictures from 2010, the West Branch creek that runs through the proposed shooting range can flood, covering the area of the proposed gun range. This would wash the lead into the stream where it could soak into the groundwater or harm wildlife. Both Orange City and Rural Water have wells downstream from this area. The EPA's Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges states:
In areas of groundwater discharge such as river flood plains and most flat areas, the groundwater surface is often a few feet below the surface. Remember, the shorter the distance traveled, the greater the risk that the lead will migrate into the environment. Shallow depth to groundwater is indicative of higher risk for lead to reach the water.

Due to the flooding creek, the ground water being close to the surface, and the sandy soil, building a shooting range at Sandy Hollow would pose an unacceptably high risk of lead contamination.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sandy Hollow Gun Range DNR letter

For the last few months my parents have been working hard organizing opposition to a proposed gun range at Sandy Hollow, near Sioux Center IA. My sister Heather wrote a great letter to the DNR expressing many problems with the gun range. She already said everything, basically, but I wrote a letter too, expressing my own perspective as a mom with a kid who eats dirt, drops things in the dirt, plays in the dirt, etc.

If this topic affects you, please contact Dale Garner (dale.garner@dnr.iowa.gov) to express your concern. Use the subject line "NIOSC gun range Sioux Center Iowa".

Here is a portion of my letter:

Lead poisoning is a dangerous problem, especially to children under 6 years old. The symptoms include irritability, learning difficulties, and fatigue. These symptoms can be easily confused with other problems or be ignored, meaning that children can suffer for extended periods of time without being diagnosed. Lead poisoning can cause miscarriage or premature birth for pregnant women.

Widespread lead contamination has been documented from shooting ranges. For example, the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware had contamination levels in the groundwater of 400 micrograms to 1 milligram per liter due to a shooting range in the area. The Sandy Hollow area is at risk for lead contamination since the west branch of the Floyd River runs through the area, and there are frequent floods that would contribute to the lead spreading downstream, soaking into the soil, or reaching the groundwater. The floods often reach over farmland nearby or downstream, and it seems that this poses a risk to farmers, livestock, and possibly even to the food supply. The EPA states that shooting ranges should not be near water for this reason.

As a parent I watch my child very closely, but as there is no fence planned around the edge of the shooting range, and guns might be shot very close to the borders and driveway of the property, I worry that my curious child might come into contact with lead pellets in the soil near the borders of the shooting area while taking a walk. I know that simply touching a lead pellet once is not likely to harm a child, but there is a definite risk for children who might accidentally ingest the lead. Even with close supervision, children tend to put objects and dirt in their mouths, or eat food that has been dropped in dirt. Children who live in the area could also be exposed to long term contamination through water or soil.

The noise level is another concern to me as a mom of young children, since the noise levels along the driveway at the edge of the property (estimated to be around 100 db) are high enough to cause hearing loss. Even in neighborning residential areas, the noise would be loud enough to disrupt outdoor activities, and would be concentrated in the times that people would want to spend outdoors.

If a shooting range is to be built in the Sioux County area, a site should be found that follows current expert recommendations: it should be a half mile or more to the nearest residence as recommended by the NRA (currently there are over 25 residences within a half mile of Sandy Hollow), the noise level should be 55 decibels or less at the property line as recommended by the NRA (at the Sandy Hollow site noise levels are estimated to be around 100 decibels at the property line), and the shooting range should not be near water, as recommended by the EPA. It would also be sensible to find a site that does not interfere with other healthy outdoor recreation and exercise such as fishing, biking, camping, running, walking, picnicking, photography, swimming and more.

The current plan would benefit only a few, while having a negative impact on many and causing risk to the smallest and most vulnerable.

The shooting range was designed by a DNR employee, and would depend on funding from the DNR, but as you can see it goes against the DNR's mission to enhance the quality of life and preserve natural resources. Please act to prevent this gun range from being built.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


As Tobias learns new words and phrases every day, we find ourselves having plenty to laugh about every day. Here are some of my favorites from the past few weeks.

Turning onto our street for the first time when coming back from Italy: "Our room!". He had forgotten the word "home" but he knew where we were!

First manly sentence (while grocery shopping): "All done. Shopping. Back home!"

For awhile he would come to us with a banana or orange and say "Zip, zip!". I was almost sad when he learned the word "peel", because "zip" was so cute!

Me: "What does mommy have in her tummy?". Tobias: "Cereal." Well, the answer we were going for was "baby" but I guess cereal was also correct. On another occasion he answered "airplane" (which is not correct at all, for the record).

Cloth Diapers in Italy

I know, I know. I need to be writing posts for my own blog. Don't worry, I have some in the works.

But, hoping that others could get ideas from my experience taking the cloth diapers along to Italy, I wrote up a guest post on what I took along and how the washing went, etc. for a cloth diapering blog. Washing the diapers was a little harder than at home, just because I had to haul the wet laundry out of our basement and through the other apartment to get to the drying racks and sunny terraces. But the view while doing so was gorgeous so I shouldn't complain!