WATERVILLE - The shooting range at Little Pine State Park has been closed since a full-scale modernization and lead remediation began last year.
Before any construction could be completed on the site, the lead remediation had to be done. It was finished in the summer of 2012.
Bullets and shotgun pellets are more than 90 percent lead, a metal that can cause environmental and health concerns, said Rachel Wagoner, resources management specialist with the Bureau of State Parks division of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
JESSICA WELSHANS/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
A gate and several signs bar the way of anyone seeking to use the shooting range at Little Pine State Park in Waterville.
"Wildlife can be impacted by lead dissolving and moving into nearby surface waters. Birds and mammals may be impacted through direct ingestion of lead in soil or by consuming prey that has consumed lead. In a recreation area, following best practices for lead management is important to protect the public's health," she said.
In 2005, DCNR looked at sites such as the one at Little Pine range to not just modernize but also to have the state Department of Environmental Protection target them for lead remediation.
A sample was gathered from the Little Pine range, Wagoner said, to determine where the lead was distributed and how much was present.
After a plan was developed on how to remediate the site, the soil was removed and the lead bullets and pellets sifted out. Then the soil was treated, Wagoner said, so any remaining dissolved lead or fragments are chemically inert.
All new construction will be done with treated soil.
"Improvements were started for several reasons, including remediation of the accumulation of lead over the years to prevent harm to wildlife and people as well as the overall improvement of the facility and visitor experience," said Michael Dinsmore, former park manager at Little Pine.
A bid for the work, totaling $298,965, was awarded June 20 to Lycoming Supply Inc., Williamsport.
That work will include a revamping of the range, which Dinsmore described as "rustic," to improve users' experience of the unique facility.
The old log-framed backstops and high-wire fencing will be replaced with a new 8-foot-high berm.
There will be similarly constructed backstops that will improve safety.
Dinsmore said the work also will help in long-term maintenance and for future lead remediation without requiring a total exaction of the site.
"It will include a rifle range with a 100-yard shooting distance and a pistol range with 25-yard shooting distance. The rifle range will be under cover of a new pavilion, and a vault toilet will be near the firing line," Dinsmore said. "The new range will also be ADA accessible. Plans for the new range are posted at the site and are available for public viewing at the park office."
Some rule and regulation changes will be made at the range, but none of them are finalized yet.
Improvements to the archery range also are being made. On Sept. 17, Dinsmore said work began to make improvements there.
"The archery range will be reopened as soon as park staff makes some modifications and improvements to the layout of the range and adjacent bluebird trail, including better orientation, wider shooting lanes and a minor relocation of the trail for greater safety," he said.
Work on the shooting range is expected to be finished by Summer 2014.