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November 20, 2018

How Firearms Ranges Benefit From an Environmental Stewardship Plan

By Richard K. “Dick” Peddicord, Ph.D., President of Environmental Range Protection

An environmental stewardship plan (ESP) is a written directive or “road map” for planning, implementing, monitoring and documenting your firearms range’s progress with environmental management and improvements. Developing and implementing an ESP documents your commitment to the environment and the community, while at the same time protecting the interests of your range. Site-specific ESPs are encouraged by the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF), National Rifle Association and other prominent shooting sports organizations as the best and most cost-effective way to minimize the potential for environmental issues to adversely affect your outdoor shooting range.

Specific benefits of developing and implementing an ESP for your outdoor range include:

  • Discouraging legal and regulatory actions against your range, especially if you have begun implementation of your ESP before concerns arise.
  • Providing tangible evidence of pro-active efforts to be good environmental citizens regarding both wildlife management and environmental management of lead and other shooting-associated materials. This can be valuable if a legal or regulatory action is initiated against your range on environmental grounds, and is helpful in responding to public concerns.
  • Maintaining control of your own destiny in relation to actions and their costs and timing, all of which will be taken over by a regulatory agency or court if an environmental allegation is raised against your range.
  • The systematic gathering and evaluating of information necessary to determine whether there are legitimate environmental concerns at your range. This can prove to be valuable historical documentation for your range that can provide defense against environmental allegations.
  • Documentation that no legitimate environmental issues have been identified, as well as identifying effective and appropriate ways to resolve legitimate environmental concerns that may be identified.
  • Documentation of optimal environmental protection under present conditions or in the future as you move forward with ESP implementation.
  • Demonstration of the need for action, planning expenditures and necessary fundraising in an orderly way as part of your overall business plan.
  • Assistance in making prudent and cost-effective decisions that will optimize your legal and regulatory protection, as well as the cost of doing so.

The “negative incentives” of not having an ESP give rise for concern. These negatives include the potentially huge costs, long-term liabilities, legal uncertainties and adverse public relations of dealing with environmental allegations, among others. Clearly, the positive benefits of having and implementing an ESP are many, and any range working to stay successful would be wise to have one in place as part of their overall business plan.

When an environmental issue arises at your range, you have three choices in how you explain your ESP to a regulator or judge:

  • How you are implementing your ESP via the schedule you’ve planned.
  • Why you have an ESP, but are not implementing it.
  • Why you don’t have an ESP.

Range owners or operators can develop an effective initial ESP for most ranges by following guidance from NSSF. To protect your interests quickly and cost-effectively with an ESP developed specifically for your range, contact Richard K. “Dick” Peddicord, Ph.D., at Environmental Range Protection or via email at Peddicord is an NSSF Range Action Specialist who has prepared site-specific ESPs for more than 150 ranges in 29 states, and he would be glad to focus his expertise on your range’s ESP or other environmental needs.

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