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Photo of the former Grapevine Firing Range in the foreground with Tucki Mountain visible in the distant background.

Grapevine Firing Range - Contaminated Site Mitigation

Death Valley National Park » Grapevine Firing Range - Contaminated Site Mitigation » Document List

Grapevine Firing Range (Site) is a former small arms range located within the Grapevine administrative complex in the northeastern portion of Death Valley National Park (DEVA) at an elevation of approximately 2,562 feet. The Site lies approximately 5.7 miles southwest of the Nevada border, 3 miles south of Scotty's Castle, 3 miles northeast of Mesquite Spring campground, and 51 miles northwest of Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

During the June 2019 Site reconnaissance, two picnic tables were observed northeast of the backstop with extensive spent ammunition (brass/shells) adjacent to them. One was located approximately 85 feet northeast of the backstop, the other approximately 125 feet from it. It appears that the picnic tables were used as separate firing lines, shooting to the
south/southwest into the hillside/backstop.

Formal records regarding the operational history of the Site are not available. It is believed that the shooting range was only used several times per year (over a 2- to 3-year period in the early 1990s) for target practice and to qualify staff for gun permits. The Site has reportedly been inactive since 1992 and is closed to the public.

In 2008, Versar conducted a Preliminary Assessment (PA) at the former Grapevine firing
range to determine whether a release of contaminants to the environment from activities at the Site had occurred or was likely to occur (Versar, 2008). The scope of the assessment included review of available local, state, and federal agency file information; a preliminary evaluation of potential impacts to Site media; identification of potential migration routes, exposure pathways, and receptors; a Site inspection/reconnaissance; and interviews with NPS personnel.

The PA concluded that a release of metals (specifically antimony, barium, copper, and/or
lead) had occurred to on-site soil and sediment from operation of the former firing range.
Although the extent of impacted soil and sediment was believed to be limited, exposures related to inhalation of windborne particulates were considered likely due to the arid climate, sparse vegetation, high wind speeds, and extended wind movement at the Site.

In 2016/2017, ECM Consultants (ECM) performed a CERCLA Site Inspection (SI) that included the collection of soil samples. Results of the soil sampling confirmed a release of contaminants from previous use of the Site for small arms and rifle qualifying practice during the early 1990s. Weathering of bullets/casings has released metals (lead, antimony, and copper) to surface soils/sediment at concentrations that pose a potential risk to human and ecological receptors.

Currently, NPS is conducting an engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) as part of
a non-time-critical removal action to gather additional information to fully characterize the
nature and extent of Site contamination. The EE/CA process will include additional site sampling to further understand the impacts of the previous range activities on the Site. Risk assessments will be conducted to evaluate human health and ecological concerns, and cleanup goals will be established. If cleanup is required, the EE/CA will also develop, present, and evaluate cleanup alternatives.

The final draft EE/CA Report prepared during this process will be made available for
public review and comment during a 30-day period. Following the review and comment period, the EE/CA Report will be revised as necessary and issued in final form. NPS will draft a responsiveness summary that summarizes and responds to significant public comments which will be issued along with the Final EE/CA Report. Following the release of those documents, NPS will issue an Action Memorandum formally selecting the response action alternative for the Site. Once those steps have been taken, NPS will seek funding to implement the selected response action for the Site. Once funding is secured, Site cleanup can proceed.

Contact Information
Abby Wines
Public Information Officer
Death Valley National Park