Target shooters might be silenced during some hours | AspenTimes.com

Target shooters might be silenced during some hours

Scott CondonAspen Times Staff Writer

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is making noise about the Basalt shooting range that some residents might like to hear.The head official in the region told the Basalt Town Council last night that he believes it is reasonable to consider restricted hours at the range to give Basaltines additional peace and quiet.”We’re open to that,” said Ron Velarde, northwest area manager.The range is currently open from sunrise to sunset. Velarde didn’t offer any alternative hours, but he said he felt the wildlife division could condense the hours and still give target shooters ample time to practice.Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens noted that most of the complaints about the range come during early morning or late evening hours.Both the wildlife division and the Town Council made it clear that despite concerns about noise during some hours, they are very supportive about allowing the range to continue to operate.Velarde said ranges are important places to teach hunter safety. In addition, he said, if they weren’t available target shooters would be blasting signs, old refrigerators and anything they could find tucked in every gully. Some people would argue they do that anyway.The council “supports your decision to keep the range up there, for now,” said Councilman Jon Fox-Rubin.Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt said it was “gracious” of the wildlife division to voluntarily work with the community on the noise issues when it really didn’t have to. She noted that developers of residential projects that have been built in the vicinity were warned at the time of approvals that noise would be coming from the shooting range. Complaining about the shooting is like moving next to an airport then complaining about the airplanes, she said.But Councilwoman Tiffany Gildred noted that complaints don’t come just from new development. The sounds booming from the shooting range affect much of the town, she said.The range is located near Lake Christine, west of downtown Basalt. The wildlife division previously announced it would try to address some of the sound issue by improving barriers at the range. Pat Tucker, area wildlife manager, said $170,000 has been secured for “range improvements.”He said that “part” of that money would be used to decrease the sound carrying away. He wasn’t specific about how much because he said studies must be done to determine what can be done and how much it will cost. Then the wildlife division must pursue the most cost-effective solutions.Other developments in the discussion between the wildlife division officials and Town Council were:-The wildlife division’s engineer is working on plans to rebuild the dam that helps make Lake Christine a lake. The dam failed a few years ago, and the water flowing into the lake has been bypassed.The wildlife division will have funds available to rebuild the dam on July 1, 2004. The town is chipping in $50,000. The tentative schedule is to complete the work in late summer or early fall 2004.-Fencing of the Basalt State Wildlife area’s perimeter, especially where it abuts private lands in the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan river valleys, will continue with a second phase this fall. Tucker said the fencing is needed so the division knows where its property is and “to protect our interests.”The wildlife division has taken a more aggressive management stance in the past four years, including winter closures to all users and summer closures for dogs and mountain bikers.Some residents complained this year when the state agency placed a three-strand, 40-inch-high wire along its boundary between The Wilds in Basalt and the Alpine Christian Fellowship along Highway 82. The second phase of the project will extend the fence west from the church and in the Fryingpan.-A near clearcut will occur in 100 acres of pion and juniper forest on lower Basalt Mountain in late September or early October. A contractor will use a lawn mower for trees to remove all but five trees per acre and the standing dead.The project is being jointly pursued by the wildlife division and Colorado Forest Service. The wildlife division claims it will improve wildlife habitat by creating an additional meadow for foraging. The state forest service says it will provide an effective fire break and defensible space from wildfire for adjacent homes.[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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