Basalt gun range a town commodity |

Basalt gun range a town commodity

Basalt gun range a town commodity

I live on Two Rivers Road in Basalt. Our property borders the Basalt State Wildlife Area. We consider the whole wildlife area, including the shooting range, to be our much beloved backyard and have always treated it as such. Up until July 3, we rode horses up there almost every day, so lucky to have those trails mostly all to ourselves, and our kids shot at the range every Tuesday with our 4-H Club. It is our hunting area.

The early evening of July 3 was a horrifying time as we mobilized kids, our horses and other animals and vehicles while flames were raging just above us. My husband and son stayed to defend the house against the fire. The house stands. Thank you firefighters, first responders and everyone who came to our aid that first night and all of the following days and nights.

I am writing regarding the shooting range and my support of keeping it right where it is, in my backyard. The range is a place where kids, including 4-H, Boy Scouts and adults go every week to safely practice their sport. We have a world champion competitor and many other high-level competitive shooting sports men and women there training the youth of Basalt and the whole valley in a sport that helps them compete for college scholarships. Men, women and children use the range to safely sight in their firearms as their hunting season nears, rather than simply going into the wilderness to do so, as they legally could. Outfitters bring clients, the state of Colorado brings students of hunter safety classes and fundraisers for local causes are held there.

Based on the speeches by the majority of the attendees not in support of the range who were in attendance at the Basalt Town Council meeting Tuesday night, they are now gratuitously going to use the tragedy of the Lake Christine Fire to push their own agenda of their personal desire to get the range out of their backyards. Rather than intelligent thoughts about the shooting range range with specific regard to the current fire, instead people talked about the bothersome sound from the shots at the range, the proximity to schools (no one could hit any of the Basalt schools from the shooting range with firearms allowed at the range if they tried) and other personal dislikes. One individual came up with two factoids in particular that are unsupportable: 1. The rifle range isn’t “long enough” to support rifle shooting, and 2. “No fire mitigation” has taken place there since the 2012 fire. False. Those wanting the range closed were loud in their disagreement and went on harrumphing so that everyone could hear them while folks in support of the range were using their three minutes of speaking time.

The logic of closing or moving the range because of the criminal actions of these individuals is not sound. The Lake Christine Fire did not start because of the shooting range. It started because of the criminal actions of two people. Discussion on the future reopening of the range should address the issue that affects all of us who use and live near the range: range safety. Certainly there are ways to improve the range and its safety for all. Water/sprinklers, getting rid of a bunch of vegetation and having an on-site range safety officer on the public side of the range are a few ideas that come to mind. Could we modify the times the range is open to respond to the concerns of those tired of hearing the shots? I support that. The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife will be presenting specific ideas addressing the safety of the range when this issue is next addressed. You still can’t stop people from making horrifyingly stupid decisions whether your perceived issue is in your backyard, or you just try to move it to someone else’s.

Ann Walker