Weapon Range To Be Opened For Recreation, Science Studies
May. 11, 1985
WARREN GROVE, N.J. (AP) _ The state Air National Guard has agreed to share a weapons range with the public, but only on days when a restricted section is not being bombed or strafed, officials said Friday.
The 8,500 acres of pine forests, off limits to most civilians since 1941, will be opened for recreation every Sunday through Monday.
The rest of the week, the entire area will be closed as a 10-acre target area is pelted with 25-pound bombs and 30mm plane-mounted machine guns.
Although the public will never be allowed in the target area, they may stroll in the woodlands nearby when it is not in use.
''Under no conditions we just let someone wander around in (the target area), because we are bombing and we are strafing,'' said Lt. Col. Ritchie Griffith. ''It's not a place where people could be hiking around.''
The agreement signed Thursday by the Air National Guard, the Department of Environmental Protection and the National Park Service at the McGuire Air Force Base opens the Warren Grove Weapons Range buffer zone beginning this weekend.
Until now, the only civilians allowed on the land have been deer hunters, who were permitted access to part of the buffer zone and other individuals given special permission.
No live ammunition is used at the range, Griffith said, adding that the bombs were equipped with a charge that emitted a puff of smoke for spotters to gauge the accuracy of the hit.
''They couldn't do this (public access) in the West, where they use live ammunition,'' Griffith said.
The National Guard's four-year agreement also calls for replenishment of plant life in the target area and would allow establishment of a 1,500-acre science study area for researchers.