Let’s make Basalt’s shooting range great
August 29, 2018
Last week, the Aspen Times editorial board endorsed keeping the Basalt shooting range in its current location. The editorial cited the "convincing case" made by range advocates at a public meeting earlier in the week.
Area sportsmen and sportswomen did indeed make a convincing case that they need access to a local range promptly. Hunting season will soon be upon us. There is, for now, no convenient and suitable alternative.
But given that the Basalt range was the origin of the Lake Christine Fire, as well as a smaller wildfire in 2012, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wisely called for a thoughtful study of the future of the Basalt range, including the potential alternative of relocating it. CPW's goal is a transparent process and "optimal" solution, in contrast to a hasty "win-lose" decision as advocated by this newspaper's editorial board. As many Basalt residents will attest, there is far too much at stake to shortcut the process by failing to perform due diligence. The legitimate needs of range users, as well as the sentiments of the residents who will live with the results of any decision, should be considered.
The Cameo range near Palisade, which will open to the public Sept. 15, will offer a main range featuring more than 67 positions, with distances ranging from 5 yards to 200 yards and other features. The Cameo facility is about 3 miles from downtown Palisade. This proximity to downtown ensures convenience for users while providing safety and sound mitigation for the town's residents. Basalt's range is only 1,800 feet from downtown, and in a fire-prone location.
Why not do something similar in the midvalley, in a convenient, suitable and fire-safe location? Given that the current range has been the origin of two wildfires in less than six years, CPW and Basalt have leverage to obtain state funds. The private Roaring Fork Valley Sportsman's Association that leases a portion of the Basalt range can be a partner at a bigger, better, safer facility.
Would the existing range need to reopen for an interim period, while funds and a new location are secured? With proper precautions and a defined transition period, yes.
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But let's not shortchange area range-users and Basalt residents by settling for the status quo forever when we can have something truly great.
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