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Tours restart at Joint Base Cape Cod

Machine. gun range tour
Eve Zuckoff
Major Alex McDonough leads a bus full of Cape Cod residents around the grounds of Camp Edwards.

Public tours of Joint Base Cape Cod are starting up again, after taking the winter months off.

Officials say tours offer the community an opportunity to see where a controversial machine gun range might be placed, learn about the Guard’s water protection and habitat conservation work, and to ask questions about base activities, specifically on Camp Edwards.

“We want to make sure that transparency, that public trust is there,” said Col. Matthew Porter, base commander for Camp Edwards. “We want to reinvigorate it. We're doing that through public communication and outreach. We want to do that with the tours. It’s important for the public to see that.”

Guard officials started up public tours last fall for the first time in 20 years, after public outcry grew over the proposed eight-lane machine gun range.

The installation would require clear-cutting more than 170 acres of trees and be placed directly over the 15,000-acre Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve, a protected conservation area within JBCC's Camp Edwards. The aquifer located beneath this area supplies most of the Upper Cape's drinking water. The Environmental Protectional Agency (EPA) is currently evaluating whether activity on the range could contaminate the drinking water.

But critics have raised a range of concerns, citing noise, traffic, habitat loss, and more.

Col. Porter said he’s heard the comments, and the goal now is to build public trust.

“There was a little bit of trial-and-error trying to figure out what's the best way to get information to the public. But the tours certainly have done that, and I think they really have helped a great many in the community to understand the project better,” he said. “We're extremely proud of what we do and we want to make sure that people can see it.” 

The 4-hour tours will be held one Friday or Saturday morning nearly every month starting tomorrow. On each, 36 people will travel around the base by bus with regular stops from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.. Spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tour dates are:

  • Saturday, April 23
  • Saturday, June 18
  • Friday, July 15
  • Saturday, August 20
  • Friday, September 16
  • Saturday, October 15

Those interested in signing up for a tour can email Emily.d.kelly2.nfg@mail.mil no later than noon on the Thursday prior to the tour. Full names of those interested in attending and a telephone number must be included. Registration can also be done by phone: 339-202-9341.

A confirmation email will be sent with further information including directions, meeting location and parking.

More information about the Massachusetts Army National Guard's plans can be found on its website.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.