Summit County Shooting Range noise mitigation efforts stalled

The measures that were to be put in place last year were too expensive, so county leaders had to go back to the drawing board as residents wait for solutions

The pistol range at the Summit County Shooting Range in Keystone is pictured Oct. 25, 2019. County officials are exploring new noise mitigation strategies with Tru Horizon after the strategies proposed by Siebein Associates were found to be too costly.
Deepan Dutta/Summit Daily News

Since 2019, Summit County residents have complained about the noise coming from the Summit County Shooting Range near Keystone. To mitigate the concerns, the county commissioned Florida-based sound consulting firm Siebein Associates to conduct a study on the range and develop a list of possible solutions.

The county spent more than $48,000 to commission the study, and over the summer, the Summit Board of County Commissioners gave support to implement 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.

The county had about $500,000 to spend on these mitigation efforts, and the team had initially expected to begin construction in the fall. Since then, the county has had to brainstorm a new plan and delay construction.

“The analysis we did on the mitigation measures we identified in that first study and the cost associated with them came back exceedingly high — much higher than we anticipated,” said Summit County Assistant Manager Bentley Henderson, who has been leading the project. “We started doing some additional research internally and came to a conclusion that there might be some alternatives that hadn’t gotten fully explored with the first study.”

Henderson said one such measure was enclosing the shooting structures, which was not one of the items the team looked at initially. Since then, the county has engaged with Texas-based Tru Horizon, which can complete this kind of work, and Henderson said the team found that this method could be effective and more in line with the county’s budget.

In late March or early April, Henderson said the county is bringing in a temporary sound wall to put up. Once installed, they plan to run live fire exercises to see if such a method would be a viable option.

While there have been steps to move forward with other alternatives, locals like Leslie Weise have been waiting for the noise to lighten up. Since 2018, Weise has lived part-time in Keystone Gulch Condos, which sits about 2.5 miles from the range. She said over the past year or two, the noise from the range has increasingly grown worse.

“What I’ve noticed lately (is) it’s more intense, it seems like the rapid fire is more frequent, and at certain times of the day, it feels like it’s much more heavily used,” Weise said.

Weise said she typically walks her dog or goes for a bike ride near her home and that the noise sometimes makes her feel unsettled.

“There was one day where I was literally in tears,” Weise said. “I felt like I had to get back home because it was so disconcerting.”

The shooting range’s winter hours begin in November and run through the end of March, and during this time, it’s open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. In the summer, it’s open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m to 5 p.m. on weekends.

The public shooting range is one of many in the state, but it’s in close proximity to the Front Range that makes it especially popular. Aaron Byrne, solid waste director for the county, wrote in an email that the range is estimated to average about 1,000 visitors per month during the winter and about 1,700 visitors per month in the summer. Weekends are typically the busiest days.

Weise said she believes the county has a responsibility to mitigate the noise coming from the range and has even reached out to the county for updates on its progress.

Henderson noted that the live demonstration that’s supposed to occur within the next month or so will be telling about next steps. He said he wasn’t able to give an estimate on when construction would start or how much the project would cost because both depend on what happens at the live demonstration and what kind of additional features will be needed to reduce the noise. Even so, he’s confident the construction will begin this year.

Weise said she’s encouraged by the progress being made and said she’s hopeful that meaningful solutions will be implemented in the near future. For others like her who have been waiting a few years to get the problem resolved, Henderson asked for patience as his team works out final details.

“Be patient and recognize that we are exploring alternatives that we hope are going to have the greatest impact on mitigating the noise, and we’re trying to be diligent in our efforts in doing that,” Henderson said.

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