Monday, August 08, 2011

Letter to Sioux County Board of Supervisors

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, the Sioux County Board of Supervisors will meet to make a decision on whether or not to allow a gun range to be built at Sandy Hollow. This is my letter to them; I encourage you to write a letter or e-mail ( if you would also be affected by this decision, or to sign the petition if you have not already.

To: Sioux County Board of Supervisors: John Degan, Arlyn Kleinwolterink, Al Bloemendaal, Mark Sybesma, Denny Wright

I am writing concerning the NIOSC application and my correspondence is for the record. I lived in the vicinity of Sandy Hollow for many years and now visit my parents and family there a few times a year. I am concerned about how the proposed NIOSC shooting range would affect myself, my family, friends and former neighbors in the area.

The first thing thing that would affect me as a regular visitor is the level of noise. I have one toddler who loves spending time playing outdoors and another child on the way who doubtless will as well. My husband and I like to spend time playing games, gardening, grilling, sledding, doing photography, and enjoying the fresh air at my family's house.

The noise of the shooting, especially so close to the Sandy Hollow driveway, would make it unlikely that we could continue such activities at the level we currently enjoy. Walking down the Sandy Hollow driveway to get to the playground, campground, or bike trail would expose my children to levels of noise that would be frightening and could damage their hearing (an estimated 105 decibels, the level of a rock band). Even in the yard of my parents' residence and in their home, the noise would be enough to disrupt conversation and activity, and would likely even disrupt sleep. A decibel level of 45 is considered enough to make it difficult to sleep, and in my experience, kids can be very sensitive to unexpected noises while trying to fall asleep. Gunshots would be louder and much more surprising to a child than the "whoosh" of a car going by or muffled conversation through the walls. Of course, with two kids and possibly more in the future, I know that sleep is important for a child's health, and for their parents' well-being as well!

The noise from a shooting range is the reason the NRA strongly recommends a 1/2 mile buffer between the range and nearby residences; there are 70 residents within a 1/2 mile of Sandy Hollow, in addition to businesses and farms. Many of these are in areas zoned as "residential" and they deserve to have the residential character of their beautiful homes and yards protected. The level and frequency (2500 shots per day at half capacity, more during busier days or tournaments) of noise generated by a shooting range would not be tolerated in an area immediately bordering a city residential housing area, and Sandy Hollow area residents deserve the same respect. In addition to the 70 residents in the immediate 1/2 mile area, there are an unknown number of people within 1-2 miles that would certainly hear the shots while trying to enjoy their own yards, and there are many people who currently enjoy the fishing, biking, and camping opportunities at Sandy Hollow that would choose not to visit there if the shooting range were to be built. Many people would be negatively impacted.

I am convinced that a shooting range does not mix well with a family recreational area, for safety reasons. With the shooting stations so near to the edge of the proposed range, nearer than recommended by the NRA, I would avoid walking or taking my children along the Sandy Hollow driveways and trails during shooting hours even if it were not for the noise. Accidental shots do happen, and a buffer safety space around shooting stations is recommended for legitimate reasons. I think a site should be found that can accommodate those types of safety recommendations instead of trying to squeeze a shooting range into the Sandy Hollow site.

In addition, the airborne lead dust and lead shot deposited by the shooting range would pose a health and safety risk. The ideal level of lead in humans is zero; it serves no purpose to the human body. Lead poisoning, even at low levels, can cause symptoms such as fatigue, behavioral problems, raised blood pressure, headaches, reproductive problems, and anemia. It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of such symptoms, meaning that children or adults with lead poisoning can suffer for an extended amount of time and incur permanent damage. As a mom and a teacher, I am glad that our society has taken steps to eliminate lead in fuel, paints, and toys. Allowing a shooting range so close to crops, water supply, residential and recreational areas is a step backwards that would be hard or impossible to undo.

Please make the sensible choice that benefits and protects the whole community: reject the NIOSC application.


Hannah Vander Wilt

P.S. Read Heather's letter too, or browse them all.

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