FALMOUTH – The Falmouth Rod and Gun Club began making headway this week in addressing environmental and safety concerns that closed all four shooting ranges at the Gray Road facility earlier this year.

The club expected to complete a corrective landscaping and drainage project on Friday that the Planning Board approved last fall, said David Ennis, club president. The club also will plant trees and other vegetation in the newly landscaped area to address a violation notice issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in May 2010.

In the coming weeks, Ennis said, the club will submit plans to beef up insufficient earthen berms around the other shooting ranges and address safety concerns that led to the club’s closure.

“We have engineers working on those plans,” Ennis said. “Everything takes time when you’re jumping through hoop after hoop. But things are looking up.”

The club found itself in conflict with local and state land-use regulations last year when authorities discovered that the organization had bulldozed as much as 8,000 cubic yards of soil to create a new shooting range without required permits in 2002.

The Planning Board issued an after-the-fact permit last September and approved a remediation project that had to be started within a year and completed within two years.

The project included the installation of heavy stone riprap and a retention pond to handle stormwater runoff, Ennis said. The club also will plant about 25 different types of trees and plants, replacing vegetation that was bulldozed near an unnamed stream bed in violation of state environmental laws.

The club’s problems mounted in November when Justin Brown, the town’s new code enforcement officer, investigated neighbors’ longstanding concerns about a lack of berms surrounding the shooting ranges.

Brown learned that the club hadn’t renewed its annual target-shooting permit with the police department since 1995. He also determined that the rifle-, pistol- and trap-shooting ranges were insufficient to prevent stray bullets from posing a threat to bystanders or neighbors.

The club initially challenged Brown’s assessment, but has since agreed to address his concerns. The club is working with several town officials, including police, to make sure the berms will be rebuilt to acceptable safety standards, Ennis said.

Founded in 1947, the club at 358 Gray Road is a former military training ground, Ennis said. It occupies a long strip of land that runs west of Gray Road to the Maine Turnpike.

Ennis wouldn’t say how many members belong to the club, but he said several people have joined recently. He also wouldn’t say when he expects the club’s ranges to reopen.

He said the club plans to mount both membership and fundraising campaigns to help cover the cost of firing-range improvements and to promote new safety and training protocols.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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