The Daily Tidings portrayal of the lawsuit regarding the Ashland Gun Club was, unfortunately, incomplete and did not supply you with many facts.

The Daily Tidings portrayal of the lawsuit regarding the Ashland Gun Club was, unfortunately, incomplete and did not supply you with many facts.

Here are some facts: First, the plaintiffs in the case do not want to shut the Gun Club down — their only interest is in cleaning up and reducing other impacts of the site. The gun club has been shooting at the Emigrant Creek site since 1964 — nearly 50 years — and, there is no evidence that a thorough cleanup has occurred on a regular basis — or at all. Some of the shooting is directed at the wetlands and Emigrant Creek itself.

We believe that not only does good stewardship of the land require periodic, thorough cleanup, so does the law. The public and lawmakers generally frown on entities that pollute the ground, wetlands and creeks in a cavalier manner. Good citizenship equates to cleaning up after yourself. After all — we require dog owners to clean up after their dogs (and there are laws to enforce this good citizen requirement); so why shouldn't we require those who pollute the land and water with lead and other contaminants to clean up after themselves — especially when there are good laws on the books? The laws are there to codify good citizenship.

Further, an entity that engages in an activity that severely pollutes the land and water must have the financial capability to clean up its mess. This is, again, common sense, and the law. Again, as an example — if a company dumps toxic materials into the ground or water, we expect, and the law mandates, that it pay to clean it up (Love Canal, the BP oil spill, Hudson River PCBs, and even here in the Ashland Railroad District). Why would pumping millions of lead rounds into the ground be any different? It's not.

And, in this case, the pollution is being done on your property. The citizens of Ashland own the Lithia Springs site — the origin of the lithia water that is piped to the Plaza (note — there is no evidence at this time that the Plaza water is being contaminated by this site). Unfortunately, the City Council has repeatedly punted on correcting the problem. Even though the council has paid for studies of the property that show high levels of contamination, it has chosen not to clean up the property, or require the gun club to do so at this time (though the council has, apparently, admitted that the site must be cleaned up eventually).

How much contamination is there? One study shows lead contamination at 131,000 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg). The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) considers 17 milligrams per kilogram to be a background concentration that would be expected at the site. The gun club site that was sampled is therefore 8,000 times the background level. The least polluted site sampled at the gun club was 3,510 mg/kg of lead — still 200 times the background level.

The dangers to humans of lead contamination are well known — nerve disorders, hypertension, high blood pressure, and reproductive and neurological problems. At the Emigrant Creek site, wildlife is also at risk. A recent study showed that nearly 100 species of birds can be found in the Emigrant Lake/Creek area — and all are susceptible to ingesting lead pellets. Emigrant Creek is also habitat for threatened Coho salmon. A recent study by the University of California found that California Condors were dying from lead poisoning as a result of ingesting lead pellets from ammunition. The dangers of lead to wildlife have been known for over 100 years.

We sent the city and Ashland Gun Club notice back in August that we were concerned about these issues and offered to discuss how to resolve them. Neither took us up on our offer.

We continue to be open to sitting down and talking with both parties in an effort to clean up the environment as well as keep the gun club open.

Tom Dimitre is an attorney who lives in Ashland. He handles environmental, employment and civil rights cases.