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County Commissioners Oppose Additional Funding for Machine Gun Range on the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve 

November 8, 2023 [BARNSTABLE COUNTY, MA] – In a further effort to safeguard the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve, the Barnstable County Commissioners are opposed to further federal appropriations for the proposed Multipurpose Machine Gun Range (MPMGR). 

Recent news reports suggest a funding shortfall for the project exceeding six million dollars.  In a letter to U.S. Senators Warren and Markey, and Congressman Bill Keating, the Board urged the lawmakers to oppose any further federal Defense or Military Construction appropriations for the proposed machine gun range on the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve.   

Situated over the Reserve and the Sagamore Lens, the Machine Gun Range, as assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), could lead to a four-fold increase in ammunition and associated contaminants deposited on the ground above the aquifer, raising the risk of groundwater pollution and contamination Cape Cod’s drinking water. 

“The EPA has made it quite clear that the project has the potential to contaminate the aquifer and would create a significant public health hazard,” the letter states.  

Additionally, the letter highlights the flawed environmental review process undertaken by the Massachusetts Army National Guard.  According to legal analysis provided by the County’s special counsel, the review failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and lacked a proper analysis of alternatives.  Furthermore, the Guard did not propose meaningful mitigation measures to prevent adverse impacts on the aquifer, which has already suffered significant damage from decades of military training and operations.  

Commissioners Tackle Wildfire Management in Upcoming Talks with New Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Jennifer Flynn 

In other news, the Board authorized a letter welcoming Jennifer Flynn, the new Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore, reaffirming their commitment to a robust partnership.  The County has a long-standing partnership with the CCNS, notably with AmeriCorps Cape Cod and as a member of the CCNS Advisory Commission. 

With Ms. Flynn assuming her new role, the County anticipates a renewed effort to address wildfire prevention. Michael Maguire, Director of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, highlighted the Seashore’s crucial role in preventing wildfires, especially given Cape Cod’s high fire risk, ranking third nationally due to the prevalence of pitch pine.  The County will work collaboratively with the CCNS and towns to secure funding for updating the region’s 2012 Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan.   

Commissioners Briefed on New Lab Equipment Designed to Protect Water Quality and Public Health 

Dan White, director of the Barnstable County Water Quality Lab, presented an overview of the lab’s crucial role in safeguarding our community’s water resources. Serving both public water suppliers and private well owners, the lab conducts wastewater analysis for organizations like MASSTC, monitors bacterial levels at Cape Cod’s 350 freshwater beaches, and oversees groundwater and surface/stormwater runoff for environmental safety. Equipped with advanced technology like the Mass Spectrometer (LC-Ms-MS), capable of detecting PFAS at ultra-low levels, the lab addresses concerns for well owners and public water suppliers. Additionally, they test for nitrate pollution from septic systems and fertilization runoff, which can lead to health issues, especially among infants and the elderly.  

Mr. White emphasized, “As water quality challenges continue to evolve, our laboratory remains committed to instilling confidence within the community through our dedication, diligent efforts, and innovative solutions.” 

Commissioners Praise Fall 2023 Human Rights Academy  

Leslie Dominguez-Santos, Barnstable County Human Rights Coordinator, discussed the successful Fall 2023 Human Rights Academy.  Over 130 students from 11 schools in Barnstable County gathered around the theme “I is for Inclusion.” The keynote speaker, Marie Younger Blackburn from Driven Women Cape Cod, shared inspiring stories of community inclusion, including her and her son Chase’s work.  Riverview School students also shared their perspectives on inclusion, and students discussed strategies for promoting inclusion.  The Human Rights Academy is held twice a year and is organized by the Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission.   

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF CAPE COD Barnstable County provides exemplary government functions and services to keep our community healthy and safe, promote sustainable growth, and offer a proactive, open government that enhances the quality of life for the citizens of Barnstable County. Learn more at