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Environmentalists Want Guard to Reveal Public Comments on Proposed Gun Range

Environmentalists with the Association to Preserve Cape Cod are asking the Massachusetts Army National Guard to release hundreds of public comments on a proposal to build a machine gun range on Joint Base Cape Cod. 

Guard officials have said they're in the process of responding to 900 individual comments submitted during a 30-day period this past summer, including those challenging the project’s Environmental Assessment, which found the range will have “no significant impact” on groundwater, wildlife, and other natural features. 


“We believe those 900 comments reflect a great outpouring of public opposition to the machine gun range, and that public sentiment should weigh heavily against any decision to locate such a controversial and potentially environmentally damaging project on Cape Cod,” explained Andrew Gottlieb, executive director of APCC. 


The range would require the clear-cutting of 170 acres of trees, and has drawn criticism over potential impacts on groundwater, wildlife, and noise in surrounding communities. Guard officials have said it’s needed to adequately train soldiers and have frequently pointed to mitigation plans included in the range proposal that are designed to support the natural environment.


Despite those assurances, APCC filed a public records request with the Massachusetts National Guard Bureau on Tuesday requesting the release of all public comments that have been submitted in response to the $11 million machine gun range proposal. 


“There are a lot of people who have taken a great deal of time to review in enormous detail the quality and the underlying assumptions in the Environmental Assessment,” Gottlieb said.  “And it’s important for the broader public’s full understanding of what’s going on here …  to have access to the work that was done by the interested and informed public, and to not simply rely on an agency-based summary of that information.”  


Guard officials did not respond to requests for comment.


After base officials respond to public comments, environmentalists hope to have the ear of the state Environmental Management Commission at a public meeting. The EMC must approve the project before the Guard can move forward with construction.