Basalt shooting range task force will unveil recommendations on June 6
A citizens’ task force will make short- and long-term recommendations about the Basalt shooting range to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at a public meeting June 6.
The meeting will be held at Basalt High School from 6 to 8:30 p.m., according to Matt Yamashita, acting area wildlife manager for CPW. The task force was created last fall after a series of community meetings about the facility.
There are six midvalley residents on the task force, representing a broad spectrum of interests. They have been holding private meetings and were sworn to secrecy until their entire package was ready to present to CPW.
“CPW will take all recommendations from the task force into consideration as we move forward with shooting range management,” Yamashita said.
The shooting range is part of the Basalt State Wildlife Area, which is state land overseen by CPW.
CPW faced public pressure to increase safety measures after the Lake Christine Fire broke out at the shooting range July 3. Allison Marcus, a woman using the rifle range July 3, pleaded guilty this week to a criminal charge related to firing tracer rounds, which were banned. The fire broke out in the brush beside the rifle range and eventually burned nearly 12,600 acres, destroyed three homes and forced the temporary evacuations of thousands of midvalley residents.
The counties in the Roaring Fork Valley, state agencies and federal land managers had Stage II fire restrictions in place at the time the fire broke out. The attorneys for Marcus and Richard Miller in the criminal case argued that the rules of the fire ban weren’t well-defined last summer and that the various entities weren’t well coordinated with their rules.
That is one area of improvement CPW will examine with the task force.
“CPW has discussed the need for more streamlined communication with fire authorities and the sheriff during fire restrictions but has not made any official decisions on mandated closures or timing,” Yamashita said in an email.
The shooting range was closed last summer after the fire and several safety enhancements were made. The facility reopened in the fall with built-up berms at the rifle range, additional fire extinguishers installed in the shooting enclosures and, for a while, staffing by a safety officer.
Posting signs with rules of the range will be among the topics discussed by the committee.
“All wording on these signs is being evaluated as a part of the process that CPW has engaged in with the shooting range task force,” he said.
Hours will be another topic of discussion. The shooting range is currently closed to the general public on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though still open to special user groups.
CPW officials had no opinion on whether the plea disposition by Richard Miller, the other person who pleaded guilty this week to starting the fire, and Marcus will affect discussions on the shooting range’s future. Each of them pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of setting fire to woods or prairie. The recommended sentence as part of the plea deal was 45 days in Eagle County Jail, 1,500 hours of community service, $100,000 each in restitution and five years of probation.
(Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that the shooting range is closed to the general public on Tuesdays and Thursdays but open to special user groups seven days per week.)