Written by John Plestina
Steven Long holds bullets he said he picked up in his yard, which is located near a shooting range east of Wolf Point. (Photo by John Plestina)
Errant bullets from a nearby shooting area have strayed into the yard of a home near Bridge Park, passing dangerously close to a house, according to the man who lives there.
Steven Long called the shooting area near the Montana Hwy. 13 bridge that separates Roosevelt and McCone counties, a renegade shooting range with a mound that he said does not offer enough protection for his home and yard that are located beyond the mound.
Long said he is worried about safety. He held a handful of bullets he said he picked up in his yard.
“Saturday evening [July 19], I was sitting in my yard trying to relax,” he said.
Then Long heard shots.
“They were right behind the yard,” he said.
“I’m not against people shooting and sighting their guns in. I think people might not know that people live around there,” Long said.
He said a public shooting range is needed, but in a different location where there are no homes nearby.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has managed the site that includes the Lewis and Clark Fishing Access Site since 1999.
“It was an old rifle range when [Wolf Point] gave us the site,” Woody Baxter, FWP Region 6 fishing access site manager, said.
“We’ve had up to two dozen phone calls [about stray bullets],” he said.
“He’s [Long] on a mission and I’m pretty supportive of him,” Baxter said. “I think he’s probably the third person who has lived in that home since I’ve been here [13 years].
He said FWP has the authority to close the shooting area.
“I would be glad to close it down, but I would need help from the sheriff’s office with enforcement,” Baxter said.
It is the shooting area where sheriff’s deputies qualify.
Baxter said Sheriff Freedom Crawford has asked FWP to turn the shooting area over to the county.
He added that if FWP closes the site to shooting, he wants the sheriff’s office to find a new location for qualification and the same or another area for public use for shooting sports and for sighting in rifles during hunting season.
“You have to have an alternative shooting area,” Baxter said.
He has contacted the Roosevelt County Commission.
“If we put it off limits, that’s not going to change anything,” Commissioner Gary Macdonald said of the possibility that some people would continue to shoot at a closed area.
Installing gates and a higher dike are possibilities to remedy the situation that Macdonald said the commission will discuss in the future.