Shooting range near Basalt back on Town Council’s agenda | AspenTimes.com

Shooting range near Basalt back on Town Council’s agenda

BASALT – The controversy over a shooting range outside of Basalt won’t quiet down.

A group of homeowners wants the Basalt Town Council to ask the Colorado Division of Wildlife to build an enclosure around the shooting range to reduce the noise. Until that happens, they want shooting at the range stopped on Sundays.

The issue pops up every other year or so, and came to a head last winter at a public meeting held by the state wildlife agency, which owns the facility. Hundreds of gun enthusiasts lobbied for continued use of the range without further restrictions. Scores of speakers touted the benefits of the range – from teaching youngsters gun safety to providing target shooters an alternative site to the forests.

Wildlife division officials said unequivocally at that meeting that the facility will remain open. The range is on the Basalt State Wildlife Area, adjacent to Lake Christine and just downvalley from downtown Basalt. Some residents complain that the noise from the guns is a steady irritant. Other residents say they aren’t bothered.

The homeowners’ group that is renewing the complaint stressed in a letter to the Town Council that they don’t want the facility closed.

“Those affected by the noise often called publicly for the closure of the range,” says the letter, which was unsigned. “This caused a huge rift with the gun enthusiasts that have enjoyed the range for decades. Many a public meeting turned into shouting sessions, and the local government officials seemed caught in a ‘no-win’ situation.”

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Enclosing the shooting range is a potential solution “that would work for everyone and put an end to the endless issue that is frustrating many,” the letter says.

The homeowners’ group proposed that funds could be raised locally to pay for the enclosure. The issue is scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting at 6:15 p.m. in Town Hall.

The agenda didn’t say if the homeowners’ group will be represented at the meeting. It was impossible to determine the size of the homeowners’ group from the letter.

Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said an enclosure was mentioned as a potential solution at last winter’s meeting.

“The Colorado Division of Wildlife is certainly open if somebody comes up with a solution,” he said. “We didn’t say ‘no’ to this kind of thing.

“The problem is money. The cost is astronomical.”

He said the state is cutting its budget and doesn’t have funds available for such a facility. The multimillion-dollar enclosure would have to be funded entirely through other sources, Hampton said.

He noted that the wildlife division adjusted the shooting range’s hours of operation last year in response to complaints about noise. Shooting is allowed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There are also limits on the caliber of guns that can be used, and fully automatic weapons are prohibited.

“We feel we’ve done everything in our power to bring the two sides together – the homeowners and the range users,” Hampton said. The wildlife division wants the facility open on Sundays to accommodate people who cannot get there the other days of the week. The homeowners contend that hours of operation wouldn’t be an issue if the range was enclosed.

The homeowners’ proposal didn’t specify how much an enclosure would cost or how much money the group can raise.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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