BY MATT TROUTMAN
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Hoosier Valley Road may soon become a much quieter place.
Effective Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources closed one of three makeshift gun ranges on Hoosier Valley Road and officials will enforce a series of interim restrictions that include shooting hours and ammunition limits.
"It's going to be a much lengthier process, but we definitely wanted to address the immediate situation," said Bill Sterrett, district supervisor with the DNR's forest resources division.
Residents have raised concerns about noise and safety as the free ranges about 10 miles south of Traverse City in Blair Township became increasingly popular with local gun enthusiasts. More than 100 people attended a June public meeting to speak about the ranges, and Sterrett said the interim solution was based on their comments.
The DNR established Monday through Saturday shooting hours of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or sunset, whichever is sooner. Ranges will be closed on Sundays.
Sterrett said the westernmost range is now closed and the DNR is putting up new signage for the remaining two ranges. He said the land use order allows only "common use" ammunition capacities of up to 15 rounds in barrel and magazine combined.
"It's not what we call 'banana clips' with 30 rounds," he said. "The intent is to restrict those who fire off 50 or 100 rounds at a crack."
Incendiary, explosive, armor-piercing and tracer fire ammunition and targets are also prohibited.
Sterrett said the DNR is reaching out to local law enforcement to make sure the restrictions are followed.
Hoosier Valley Road resident Beate Raffaele was happy to hear about the restrictions
"But I feel the ultimate decision should be they move it," she said. "I feel that would be best for everyone."
Sterrett said the DNR continues to take public input and it may be months before a final decision is made. One possible remedy is to move the ranges to another location altogether.
"It is no longer a good fit out there," he said. "We're definitely looking and definitely open.