Summit County moves forward with 2nd noise mitigation plan for Keystone shooting range

A view from the Summit County Shooting Range is seen Saturday July 9, 2022. Summit County is in the process of hiring a contractor to build enclosed sound mitigation structures around each of the shooting ranges.
Jason Connolly/Summit Daily News archive

Summit County government is currently in the process of choosing a contractor to build enclosures around the Summit County Shooting Range near Keystone. 

A request for proposal was posted July 1, seeking bids for construction of a sound barrier fence and enclosing existing canopies as well as creating a new, enclosed canopy.

Citizens in the Keystone area have been complaining about noise from the range for multiple years. At first, the county limited the daily hours people could use the range. But gunshots still rang out, disrupting the mornings and evenings of residents in the area. 

The county then paid for a sound test during the summer of 2020 to see what structure would be necessary to mitigate the noise. 

After the tests, the county attempted to move forward with two measures. The first was to raise the height of the berm on the residential-facing side of the range to 20 feet and build a 10-foot wall on top. The second was to install a fence that would either lock at a certain time or require an access code to enter, which was to help ease concerns about the range’s use after hours.

However, the projects were too expensive, so the county had to start over.

Paul Upsons, an avid hiker in the Keystone area, has sent many emails to the county asking for a solution to the noise issue.

“I hope the board considers the far reaching impact that an open-air gun range has,” Upsons said. 

While on hikes, Upsons said he’s detected the “pop pop pop” of the gun range at far-reaching elevations where he never expected to hear it.

“It can go away for awhile, and then you’ll be walking or hiking and reach a different elevation and you start hearing it again,” he said. 

There is a certain level of human-made noise that Upsons said he can expect in the outdoors, like highway or traffic sounds from the valley below, but the gunshots are different. Upson said the gunshots can be more disruptive than the white noise sounds from traffic.

In the best-case scenario, Upsons hopes that the county will consider an enclosure for the gun range. He said while he respects the right for anyone in the community to recreate however they please, the noise from the shooting range is a problem that needs to be fixed. 

As of July 2022, the complaints are still streaming in. Summit County Assistant Manager Bentley Henderson said county commissioners receive up to two to three emails per week complaining about the noise. 

Fortunately for Upsons and those living near the gun range, the county is in the beginning stage of building an enclosed barrier. 

This second time around, Summit County has partnered with Texas-based acoustic engineers Tru Horizon. This company, Henderson said, helped them to brainstorm the most effective structure for stifling the gunshots.

Tru Horizon proposed enclosed sound barriers that Henderson said would provide walls and a canopy around every range. As of now, none of the ranges have walls, and only one of them — the rifle range — has a canopy. 

“The best way to describe them is that they are similar to the enclosures that you would see on an oil pumping station or an oil derrick that’s near a public space,” Henderson said. “They’re tilled-up concrete that has certain properties that are designed to mitigate sound and … negate some of the sound transmission.”

On May 11 and 12, the county conducted a live demonstration with existing models of the proposed sound barriers, provided by Tru Horizon. Throughout the Keystone valley, Henderson said they set up seven different test locations: one was in the Summer Wood area, four in the Summit Cove area, one in Elk Run neighborhood and one in Wintergreen.

Ultimately, the test concluded that gunshots could only be heard from two of the testing locations, both of which were closest to the range. From the other five locations, there was no sound detected. 

“They said they anticipated almost a 20-decibel reduction in overall levels of noise,” Henderson said. 

Though they have not chosen a contractor yet, Henderson hopes the project will be finished later on in the summer.

“It’s difficult to gauge the timing of it given supply chain issues and contractors, and things of that nature,” Henderson said. “But it’s our intention to try to get this mitigation in place just as quickly as we can.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.