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Ashland renews gun club deal

The Ashland City Council approved a one-year lease extension with the Ashland Gun Club for continued use of city-owned land, but attached conditions after a study of the site revealed lead contamination.

The council decided on Tuesday to require the club to work with city staff and a consultant to select steps to take that will better protect the environment.

Changes could include using rubber mats in shooting areas to trap and contain bullets.

Whether or not the site will remain a gun club in the future remains an open question. Some residents favor using the land for a park, and many of the people who live near the gun club are concerned about its impacts.

The club has been using 32 acres of the city's Lithia Springs property by the Ashland Municipal Airport since about 1968.

Ashland Gun Club representatives said there has never been an official cleanup of the area to remove lead that has been accumulating from bullets.

The club has more than 400 family memberships and its users include the Ashland Police Department, the National Guard, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Forensics Laboratory and hunters' safety students, club representatives said.

The firm Brown & Caldwell Consultants recently finished a preliminary study of the site that shows shooting range berms are contaminated with lead.

Further testing is needed to see if groundwater is contaminated, said Kenn Conner of Brown & Caldwell Consultants.

— Ashland Daily Tidings