Conservation Commissioner Mike Considine, who has served on the Musquash Task Force, updated the Commission on the group’s final recommendations related to target shooting in the Musquash Conservation Area.
“The Task Force voted 6-3 to ban target shooting, and to identify a single location managed by a group that’s open for a particular period of time for target shooting with smaller caliber rounds. I recommended an area like the Town Recycling Center,” Considine said. “We continued to talk and there was a recommendation to double the safe distance for shooting to 600 feet and limit the caliber of shooting rounds to those consistent with hunting in southern New Hampshire, and to permit shooting out there only during deer and turkey hunting season. That passed with a vote of 4-3.”
Task Force members Dan Watson and Dana Coons argued that irresponsible shooting will be addressed by restricting shooting to hunting season, when recreationists expect guns to be in the Musquash; further restricting target shooting to those with a Fish and Game hunting license (which requires completion of safety training); and requiring target shooters to check in at the police station, providing identification and information about where they will be shooting.
“Irresponsible shooters aren’t going to go to the police station,” Coons said.
Considine, who is in favor of a ban on target shooting, told the Commission he is not in favor of the recommendation to place various limitations on target shooting in the Musquash and provide additional police presence in the conservation area to control unsafe target shooting because he doesn’t think it will address the safety issue.
“I pointed out that three years ago (Geographic Information System Manager) John Vogl went out to look for a safe location and he came back and told the Town Council there really just wasn’t a safe place to shoot out there,” he said, noting since the Task Force workshop in October, the number of locations he has confirmed where target shooting is occurring has increased from 21 to 30 locations. “Two weekends ago I was in the Musquash and people were shooting at the Betty Mack trail. They said they had come from Danville, because recently that Town implemented a ban on target shooting. I saw them out there again with a bigger group.”
Commissioner Deb Lievens said with target shooting in the Musquash as it is now, the Commission must inform police any time they plan to host an activity in the conservation area.
Other Commissioners have expressed concern over target shooters using trees as targets. Commissioner Mike Speltz said there are many trees in the Musquash that are riddled with bullet holes.
Using a tree for shooting targets can be dangerous for those in the vicinity of the tree, and can ultimately kill the tree.
Police Chief Bill Hart, who served as chairman of the Task Force, will put together and present the group’s recommendations at an upcoming Town Council meeting, which will serve as an additional opportunity for the public to offer their input on the issue.
In other business at the Tuesday, April 28 Conservation Commission meeting:
• The Commission sent a letter to Londonderry Trailways last week confirming it will commit $100,000 toward the construction of Phase III of the Londonderry Rail Trail project, contingent on Londonderry Trailways obtaining the balance of funding for Phase III by Aug. 1, 2016.
“The Commission believes that, as the Rail Trail grows to connect an ever greater proportion of the Town to its natural resources and recreational opportunities, it will advance our mission of monitoring, protecting and managing those same natural resources to make them accessible to the residents of Londonderry,” the letter said.