Basalt shooting range closed through late May |

Basalt shooting range closed through late May

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” The Basalt State Wildlife Area shooting range will be closed until 6 p.m. on weekdays for the rest of May. Range users can still shoot during evening hours and on weekends.

The closure will allow Division of Wildlife (DOW) work crews to complete a variety of improvements to the facility, located near Lake Christine.

“We decided to push and get the remaining range construction work done during the month of May instead of stretching the work out over the entire summer,” said Perry Will, DOW area wildlife manager, in a statement issued Tuesday. “While there will be a short inconvenience to users, we believe the long-term benefits of the improvements will outweigh any inconvenience.”

The work will include reroofing shooting shelters, reconstructing targets, installing sidewalks and other concrete work, building a new bathroom facility, and erecting signs and railings for handicapped access, among other improvements, according to Randy Hampton of the DOW.

In an effort to address concerns from nearby residents, the Colorado Wildlife Commission last week approved changes to the operations of the range, beginning in July.

Beginning July 1, range hours will be weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fully automatic weapons will be prohibited. Firearms of more than 0.50 caliber also will be prohibited, with exceptions for shotguns and muzzleloaders.

“While the range was around long before the surrounding homes were built, we recognize that new residential areas around the range may be impacted by its use,” said Ron Velarde, DOW northwest regional manager, in a statement. “We have worked with the town of Basalt and Basalt police to address concerns through new hours and firearms restrictions. At the same time, the DOW is committed to providing a convenient, safe and clean shooting range for the benefit of sportsmen and sportswomen in the Roaring Fork Valley.”

Hampton said that, at a public hearing about the range, one Roaring Fork Valley resident, Patrick Jones, suggested the range be kept open until 8 p.m.

Among the written comments submitted about the controversy, Hampton said, three letters objected to the restrictions, one referred to them as “a fair compromise” and one asked that the shooting range be closed.

All letters are open to public inspection, Hampton said.

Wildlife Commission members, affirming their support for safe public shooting ranges in Colorado, have noted that a large number of shooting ranges have been closed because of development in the Denver-metro area.

The lack of affordable and convenient organized shooting ranges has led to dispersed target shooting on public lands, wildlife officials said.

In some cases, according to Hampton, dispersed shooting on public lands reportedly has prompted federal lands managers, worried about safety and littering concerns, to consider shooting closures on some public lands around Denver.

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