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Commissioners discuss Hubbard County's need for a shooting range

At Tuesday morning's regular board meeting, there was a conversation between the county commissioners and Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes regarding garbage and tannerite issues at the gravel pit off of County Road 118 in Rockwood Township, left behind from people using the area for target practice.

The conversation led to a discussion on Hubbard County's need for a shooting range when County Auditor/Treasurer Kay Rave asked whether or not there was a gun club within the county that may want to develop the gravel pit into a shooting range.

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," she said.

Commissioner Cal Johannsen alluded to the fact that since the county owns the property it would be a liability issue with insurance providers.

"If you sell it to a gun club that would get it out of our hands," Rave said.

"I will say this, we are in need of a shooting range. When the one on County 18 went away people were going to open county land, just shooting, and it's legal to do that," Sheriff Aukes interjected. "Is it as safe? No."

Aukes explained that the shooting range that was closed years ago off of County 18 was a bad spot for a range.

"I personally handled calls with bullets hitting houses on Fish Hook Lake and that's not from the people using it properly. That's from knitwits shooting at rocks on top of the berm," he said. "But honestly, there is a need for that, whether it's county land that's leased out to the Deer Hunters' Association or a gun club, there really is a need for a place to shoot."

Commissioner Johannsen said that shooting ranges in neighboring counties see a lot of activity.

"When I'm over at my property, there's hardly a time that you don't hear people shooting at that range, it's well used," he said regarding a range in Cass County. "They do get well used, it's just that we need some organization to take it over and I don't know how that works with the county owning the property with insurance I know it was a problem on County 18 and that's why we finally shut that one down."

Aukes suggested discussing the possibility of drafting an agreement of some kind with the county attorney between the county and an outside organization.

"We could maybe make it affordable enough so that they would just simply purchase it and remove it from our hands," Rave added.

Johannsen questioned the status of the land and how the county would go about selling it.

"There's been some discussion about selling the old rifle range down on County 18, the concern that we have is that because that has been used as a rifle range for so long there's a lot of lead in that bankment and what kind of environmental liabilities are we imposing on ourselves by selling that to somebody and they maybe develop it as a housing site and suddenly they've got lead in their water," Land Commissioner Mark "Chip" Lohmeier said. "Same thing on County 118, if it's strictly used as a gun range, maybe, but if they develop it for something else what kind of liabilities are we opening ourselves up for."

The commissioners also discussed the possibility of noise complaints from residents living near a potential shooting range.

The discussion concluded with the suggestion that the matter be reviewed during the development of the recreational plan for the county. Prior to the conversation, the commissioners approved a proposal from WSB & Associates out of Minneapolis for the development of the Hubbard County Comprehensive Recreation Plan in the amount of $45,000 as recommended by the Parks and Recreation Board.

In other business the county commissioners did the following:

• Approved a quote in the amount of $36,000 from Area Excavating Service out of Akeley for asbestos abatement and structure demolition for structures on four tax forfeited parcels.

• Approved a quote in the amount of $63,934.18 from Generations Forestry Service, LLC out of Hattiesburg, MS for the application of deer repellent on 217.1 acres of tax forfeited lands and the completion of bud capping on 696.8 acres.

• Approved a proposal from WSB & Associates out of Minneapolis for the development of the Hubbard County Comprehensive Recreation Plan in the amount of $45,000 as recommended by the Parks and Recreation Board.

• Referred the City of Nevis funding request to the Parks & Recreation Board for recommendation.

• Approved a quote from Park Rapids ford in the amount of $31,857 for the purchase of a 2018 Ford F150 for the Boat and Water Department.

• Adopted a resolution for the owner to repurchase a tax forfeited property in Crow Wing Lake Township.

• Adopted a resolution directing the transfer of remaining budgeted elections money for future required election equipment purchases.

• Approved a quote from Leading Edge Mechanical out of Park Rapids in the amount of $18,425 to remove existing venting for water heaters and relocate them through the roof, to include the repairs of the existing wall and roof.

The next regular county board meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at the Hubbard County Government Center.