Basalt council votes to push for relocation of shooting range | AspenTimes.com

Basalt council votes to push for relocation of shooting range

The Basalt Shooting Range sign covered in slurry from drops on the Lake Christine Fire.

Basalt town government will lobby Colorado Parks and Wildlife to relocate the shooting range that's been part of the town for roughly 50 years to a new, "suitable" location.

If a new site cannot be found, the town wants the state agency to address public safety issues — wildfire risk being tops among them — and figure out a way to reduce the noise emanating from existing facility.

The town's strategy was proposed Tuesday night by Town Manager Ryan Mahoney and approved by the council 7-0. It's the legacy of the Lake Christine Fire, which started July 3 when two people were allegedly illegally firing tracer ammunition at the rifle range. The fire has burned 12,588 of national forest, state and private lands and threatened hundreds of homes in Basalt, El Jebel and Missouri Heights.

Mahoney, who has been in the manager's post for 13 months, acknowledged the shooting range presents a conundrum.

"There certainly are voices on both sides of the issue," he said.

The town has no jurisdiction on deciding relocation or management of the shooting range, but it can influence a public process that CPW is embarking on, Mahoney said. The state agency will hold public meetings Aug. 21 and 27 to collect public opinion about management of the shooting range. Top officials with the agency have said all options are on the table.

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The council will weigh in with a resolution that will be considered at its next meeting — after the CPW hearings — but Mahoney will be able to convey the board's position. The council voted to support Mahoney's recommendation with little discussion.

In addition to seeking long-term relocation or different management on safety and noise at the current site, Mahoney's recommendation included several short-term steps.

First, the range should remain closed until long-term issues are resolved.

Second, if CPW does open the range, it should only be for a defined amount of time, such as 12 or 18 months to emphasize the need for finding a broader resolution.

Third, hours should be reduced and it should be staffed at all times.

Fourth, fire safety should be increased immediately.

The town's stance was welcomed by a handful of people attending the meeting who want the range shut down at its current site and relocated.

"The conversation is pivoting," said Stacey Craft, a leading voice in the push to get the facility relocated.

The Basalt shooting range has always been in the wrong location due to its proximity to homes and businesses in downtown Basalt, she said. It's been the source of two fires in the past six years and poses too great of hazard to the town because of combustible fuels, she said.

"The Basalt shooting range is radically different from any other shooting range that CPW manages," Craft said. It's only 2,000 feet from the nearest development — significantly less than other gun ranges, she said.

Other speakers said they want the focus to be on relocating the range — not a battle over whether it should remain open at its current site or closed with no alternative.

"We all believe shooting ranges are necessary because we need a safe place to shoot," said Cindy Kerr, a longtime opponent of the current range.

CPW's meetings later this month will be held at Basalt High School. The agency changed the start time of the Aug. 21 meeting to 7 p.m. The Aug. 27 meeting will start at 6 p.m.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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