Crosby-Ironton students who participate on the trap shooting team must drive about 30 miles to practice the sport — either to rural Pequot Lakes or Wealthwood on the northern shore of Mille Lacs Lake.
That could change as the Cuyuna Conservation Club works to come to an agreement with Crow Wing County to lease 84 acres of tax-forfeited land for a shooting range along Iverson Road, just east of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. County commissioners heard about the proposed project Tuesday, July 28, from Land Services Director Gary Griffin.
“We’ve been working with them (the club) for a little over a year to find if there was a solution for them to potentially offer this type of recreation or sport, if you will, closer to the Crosby area,” Griffin said.
He said the project was discussed at the county’s July 8 Natural Resources Advisory Committee meeting and received a very positive reception. For the club to locate a shooting range on the property, it must receive conditional use permit approvals from both the city of Trommald and Irondale Township, which each do their own planning and zoning. The 84 acres is split between the two jurisdictions. The club must also agree to a lease with Crow Wing County.
Commissioner Doug Houge said he was involved in helping the club find suitable land after it sold 40 acres on County Highway 11 that wouldn’t work for a range. The club set aside dollars from that sale to put toward construction of the range.
Don Miller, a member of the club, said during the meeting they’ve met with city and township officials and they were supportive. The club entered a contract with engineering firm Widseth to design a site plan for a minimum of three trapshooting ranges with the ability to add a rifle and pistol range.
Commissioner Rosemary Franzen asked how long the lease would be. Griffin said it could be as long as the county board wanted. The club representative said they’d want as long of a lease as possible because of the investment they have planned.
“We would run power in there, we would need water, we’re going to put a lot of money in equipment for three trapshooting ranges and a building out there,” Miller said. “I’m not sure we’d be interested in a five-year lease.”
County Administrator Tim Houle said entering into lease agreements is not new for the county and the board ought to consider the club’s investment. He said setting about a 20-year lease would seem appropriate. Houle noted the board could place any conditions it wished in the lease, on top of those instituted by Trommald and Irondale officials.
Chairman Paul Koering asked whether there was urgency for the issue, noting there was no request for board action. Houge said the club would like to move some dirt this fall in anticipation of opening the range sometime next year. Koering asked whether the county would gather any public input on the potential lease, to which Houle replied there was no legal requirement and it wasn’t typically done.
“But don’t you think Mr. Houle, that a shooting range, what about if people say, I’m concerned about bullets flying, or I’m concerned about noise?” Koering said.
Houge said those issues would be addressed during public hearings at the city and township levels. Miller said Trommald and Irondale would get together to set the same terms and conditions, including potential shooting hours. He said according to Trommald officials, noise would not be an issue.
Griffin said the land is primarily used for timber and land services is planning a timber sale to sell mature aspen, after which the property would not need to be logged for 40-50 years. Koering asked whether the lease would mean if someone had used that property as hunting land if they no longer would be able to. Houle said requiring the range to be closed during hunting season could be a lease condition, and board members could forward along any potential lease conditions they’d be interested in including.
Franzen asked whether there were any trails on the property. Environmental services supervisor Ryan Simonson said there were no formal all-terrain vehicle trails, but there were forest roads created from past timber harvests. He said people are passively using the trails. Franzen said if that’s the case, she agreed with Koering there should be public input.
“There may be outcry not to close those trails,” Franzen said. “ … You can’t say that if they have a shooting range that they use in the summer, ‘Oh, we’ll close that so we can use the trails.’”
The club is currently drafting the lease, which is expected to come before the board at an upcoming meeting.
In other business, the county board:
Approved a grant application seeking funds from the Minnesota Secretary of State through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to be used toward protecting people during the election process. The grant requires a 20% match or 25% for electronic roster purchases.
Approved a request from Aitkin County to have criminal jury trials in the Crow Wing County Judicial Center while the Aitkin County Courthouse is being renovated. The measure also needs approval from the Aitkin County Board as well as the chief judge of the 9th Judicial District and the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Agreed to convert a portion of County Highway 59 to County Road 59, removing it from the county state aid highway system. The revoked portion is 0.17 miles, moving the end of the highway to the intersection with County Road 128. Completing this action will make it possible to convert County Road 125, also known as Gull Lake Dam Road, to a county state aid highway when Cass County constructs a new bridge and roadway alignment. The new roadway will connect to the west end of the current road. To accept new miles into the county state aid highway program, Crow Wing County must decommission the same mileage elsewhere. Combined with 1.87 miles already banked, the County Highway 59 revocation meets that requirement.
Accepted the following donations: a $2,000 donation from the Crow Wing Power Community Trust to Brainerd Lakes Area Drug Education, a $500 donation from the Brainerd Jaycees to the Crow Wing County Mounted Patrol and a $50 donation from John and Kathleen Melson to the Crow Wing County Dive Team.
Approved a new position in land services for a tax system manager. According to the human resource report, the justification for the position was to improve assessment quality and overall tax system performance. The board also approved replacement staffing for two customer services specialists in land services and a senior technical/administrative specialist in the county attorney’s office.
Approved the promotion of Julie Kapsch to legal assistant in the county attorney’s office.
Approved the hiring of Brian Kargel and Caleb Elfering, correctional officers for the sheriff’s office.
Accepted the departure of Geri Albertson, customer service specialist in land services.