Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sandy Hollow Concerns

Plans are in the works to turn the part of Sandy Hollow that used to be a golf course into a shooting range run by the Sioux County Sportsmens Club. There are several disturbing aspects of this plan, all of which have been dismissed by the city officials and the property and zoning committee. After the zoning committe initially denied the club's plan upon hearing the concerns of the community, they reversed their ruling to allow a gun range to be built. However, the club's plan (which was approved by the zoning committee) involved shooting lead shot over waterways (which is not legal) and does not follow many recommendations for gun ranges by the EPA and the NRA. The city of Sioux Center has done very little to inform the public or gather public opinion regarding this project. They even told my parents that the city is not responsible for the well-being of their neighborhood because it is outside of city limits.

The following is part of an email that I recently sent to Dale Garner, a DNR employee from Des Moines: (he can be reached at Make your subject line "NIOSC gun range Sioux Center Iowa")

I am writing to you because I am very concerned about a plan in place to build a gun range on what used to be Sandy Hollow Golf course near Sioux Center, IA. I’m a physical therapy student at Creighton in Omaha, NE, but I grew up very near Sandy Hollow and my parents still live there. We are home visiting often.

My first concern is noise. An estimated .5 to 1 million shots will be fired during leisure hours in a year. The NRA recommends that a shooting range be at least ½ mile away from the nearest residence. However, this planned range would be less than half a mile from over 25 residences. The NRA also suggests that sound should be limited to 55 dB at the edge of the range, but sound tests have indicated that noise will be near 80 dB at many of the nearby homes and over 100 dB at the edge of the property. Noise levels have not been measured at the nearby campground. This impulse noise is irritating and disruptive, and unwanted sound has actually been associated with health problems. Our family enjoys spending time outside. I enjoy running through Sandy Hollow and the adjacent bike trail, but the plan is for guns to be fired only 60-80 feet away from the property’s driveway and sound there will be over 100 dB (which is somewhere in the range of subway passing/loud rock concert.) Several people enjoy going for a bike ride, a run, or walking their dogs through this area.

My second concern is environmental hazard. Operating only at half-capacity, the gun range would leave 15 tons of lead shot PER YEAR on the ground. This land is a floodplain directly adjacent to the west branch of the Floyd river, and there are 3 fishing and swimming ponds in the nearby campground. No indication has been given of how often the lead will be cleaned up, but meanwhile it will be subject to rainfall, snow melt, and routine flooding. Groundwater is close to the surface, increasing the likelihood of lead contamination. Click here to see pictures of the 2010 flood at Sandy Hollow.

My third concern is general safety. Besides the surrounding neighborhood, Sandy Hollow is home to a very popular campground and park area including green space, the ponds, a playground area, sand volleyball, and community shelters. There is no fence planned around the range, so children, pets, and wildlife could wander in, coming into close contact with lead on the ground or even wander in during shooting. Lead poisoning is a serious health problem, and children are especially vulnerable. Symptoms can range from irritability and vomiting to learning disabilities, miscarriage, and death. Click here for a mom's perspective on lead poisoning.

Sandy Hollow is already enjoyed by people of all ages for several activities such as cross country meets, weddings and photography, ice skating and cross country skiing in the winter, kite-flying, bird watching, running, biking, picnics, fishing, swimming, camping, softball, kickball, sand volleyball, a place to bring pets, and a place for social gatherings. All of these activities would be affected negatively on some level with the creation of a gun range.

I object to the plan to turn Sandy Hollow into a gun range because it is disruptive, hazardous to the environment, and dangerous for the people who currently live near or enjoy Sandy Hollow. If the proposed plan were to go through, it would be because the city and the DNR decide to support an entertainment option for a special interest group above the quality of life of the neighborhood and above the interest of the broader community who currently enjoy Sandy Hollow.

I urge you to consider your mission statement and how it may apply in this case: Please work “To conserve and enhance our natural resources in cooperation with individuals and organizations to improve the quality of life for Iowans and ensure a legacy for future generations.” Please work to prevent Sandy Hollow from becoming a gun range.


  1. Ooh, that's excellent. If you can write a letter, I can write a letter. I don't want my children getting lead poisoning!

  2. Anonymous9:51 am

    Great writing! You compacted a LOT of important information in your email. You made us alittle teary-eyed. And if Grama Hooyer can't get her comment to go, I'm suppose to tell you she thought your entry was very well written. -Mom

  3. Anonymous2:20 pm

    i like! nothing like pointing out that their mission statement is apparently not their mission at all..

    and i'm anonymous cuz i'm too lazy to sign onto my google account ) <3 hol

  4. Wow!!! I had no idea about all of that! All I knew was a shooting range was in the plan... didn't think about all that other stuff! Thanks for bringing it to everyone's attention!

  5. Anonymous10:13 pm

    Great job, Heather. XOX (I miss you.) Love, Grandma Hooyer

  6. Anonymous8:12 pm

    Excellent job !!!


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