Times editorial: DOW should be commended for work at Lake Christine | AspenTimes.com

Times editorial: DOW should be commended for work at Lake Christine

The latest complaint about the shooting range at Lake Christine should go the way of an empty shell casing and be discarded.

The range is located just outside Basalt in a corner of the Lake Christine Wildlife Area, which is owned by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The range is maintained and operated by the Roaring Fork Valley Sportsmen’s Association under an agreement with the DOW.

Shots from the range can be heard around Basalt throughout the week, but especially on the weekends, as hunters hone their skills by shooting paper targets or clay discs known as pigeons.

Basalt resident Michael Kerr, who lives about a half-mile away from the range, is the latest in a long line of people to call for an end to the shooting range, or at least some control over the noise it makes.

Kerr first took his complaints to the Basalt Town Council but discovered the town has no jurisdiction. So he went to Eagle County, only to learn that the county commissioners may not have any legal authority over the gun range.

Division officials believe the range is exempt from county regulations for two reasons.

First, the Lake Christine range was up and shooting long before Eagle County created regulations governing such activities; and, second, state law specifically exempts shooting ranges from local noise regulations. Nevertheless, the DOW has agreed to go through the county’s permitting process.

It is good to see a state agency that has every reason to ignore local rules agree to work with local governments to address local concerns.

Even more noteworthy, however, is the DOW’s plan to install noise barriers with federal grant money that will be available in September. Clearly the DOW recognizes that Basalt has grown and changed, and it’s trying to adjust the shooting range accordingly.

That said, it is important for residents like Kerr and those who come after him to remember that life is constantly going on around us, whether we like it or not. And in formerly rural areas of the Roaring Fork Valley, places like the Lake Christine Shooting Range are a big part of that daily life.

Lake Christine is the only facility of its kind in the valley. It’s where children and their parents can practice shooting, and, more importantly, learn to handle firearms safely. It’s where pheasant and duck and deer and elk hunters can practice their skills, test their equipment and get ready for the upcoming season.

It must also be noted that the DOW’s main source of funding comes from hunting and fishing licenses. Shutting down the range could certainly put a dent in the budget of an agency that is critical to the protection of our environment.

The shooting range is a valuable resource. It should be cherished, not despised. After all, it helps make hunting a safer sport, which makes the forests a safer place for everybody during the hunting season.

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