CRAIG COUNTY – About a dozen volunteers turned out to pick up Bobcat loads of trash at the popular Potts Slope Shooting Range. The range is located one-half mile off Rt. 311 in Craig County and the volunteers were helping with a quarterly clean-up day on April 9 scheduled by Eastern Divide District Ranger Cindy Schiffer.
“The folks who showed up really worked hard and the range really looks fantastic,” Schiffer said. “Now let’s hope it continues to stay that way and that people will start cleaning up after themselves.”
Volunteers who came were from Craig and surrounding areas. “Some of the same people who helped clean up the shooting range in Craig that Tuesday were also on hand that Monday to help clean the Blacksburg range,” Schiffer said.
Among the volunteers was John Wilburn, a VCDL Executive Member from Blacksburg. The Virginia Citizen’s Defense League became involved after a Craig County Board of Supervisors meeting back on Feb. 6 when Schiffer addressed the trash situation at the range. In addition to the allowed paper and cardboard targets left lying on the ground, other items are routinely left behind by individuals who bring them in to use as targets, then just leave them rather than putting them in trash cans.
“We got about 15-20 bucket loads of trash out of there via a skid-steer Bobcat,” Wilburn said. “It’s a great place to shoot and now has more natural scenery to match.” Some of the items picked up included everything from bowling balls to computers, he said. “The range is currently free to those who want to use it Schiffer said. “However, the more work we have to do the more it is going to end up costing.”
Schiffer told supervisors at the February meeting that the range was normally cleaned once a week but was not closed at the time of the cleaning so perhaps it didn’t get cleaned as thoroughly as it should.
She said she would address the issue by closing the range for a few hours on Tuesdays so the whole area could be cleaned. At the same time, she asked for volunteers to help with the clean-up.
Following the meeting several people volunteered to help; one of them was Phillip VanCleave from Richmond, President of the VCDL. VanCleave offered the Forest Service help with clean-up at the shooting range on a quarterly basis with no cost to rangers or the county. County leaders pointed out that Craig County has nothing to do with the range which is on National Forest property.
“I am meeting with some folks who are interested in being volunteer Range Masters,” Schiffer added. “Their primary goal will be to oversee that the range is kept safe and clean.”
The Potts Slope Shooting Range is closed every Tuesday morning around 9 a.m. for cleaning. Schiffer says anyone who would like to help is welcome.