|When pilots land on the main runway at the Carbon County Airport they pass right over some of the land that the Gun Range Committee has been working with the Bureau of Land Management to secure for the new facility. Much of the are will remain as it is because the many of the shooting sports that are going to be using the range want natural terrain to work with when they practice and compete.|
In a recent e-mail to gun range committee members, County Commissioner Steven Burge spelled out the situation the county is in with the development of the new shooting range near the airport.
"First, even though it may not feel like it, things are moving along," wrote Burge. "We continue to chip away at key issues and have made progress."
The gun range, for which the county has secured a near $250,000 grant, has been in the planning stages for a few months. Initially, shooting advocates wanted to build an indoor range, possibly near the Carbon County Fairgrounds. But after a subcommittee spent some time visiting gun ranges across the nation it was determined that an outdoor range would be more effective and serve many more residents, as well as serve as a draw for outside shows and competition than an indoor range would.
The county has asked for more than 1,400 acres from the Bureau of Land Management in an area northeast of Price. The range will feature nearly a dozen types of shooting venues including black powder, shotgun, skeet shooting, open public shooting and an archery area.
"The BLM prepared and filed the necessary paperwork to protect our request from individuals who sometimes make nuisance mining claims," noted Burge. "They have also prepared the papers necessary to formalize our request for a recreational land withdrawal and to have that request published in the Federal Register as is required by law."
Burge stated that it takes about two weeks for the Salt Lake BLM office to review the request and then it would be sent on to the nations capitol. Then a notice will be published and a comment period of 45 days will follow. After that, a finalization period of about 30 days will follow before the land is transferred to the county, if there are no objections.
In the last two months the Carbon County Commission has worked with the gun range committee to select both a consultant to do an environmental assessment on the area and an architect to design the range. With committee members and members of various shooting clubs getting anxious about the project, Burge explained why little has been done to get those hired on the job.
"We hesitate to spend $51,000 for an environmental assessment until we know for sure the land is ours," he noted. "We will try to time the commencement of the EA with the attainment of the land as best we can."
The future range is seen not only as a plus for the many community members who belong to various shooting clubs in the area and for the general public who wants to have a good and safe place to practice their skills, but also as a possible tourist draw. Many of the conversations during public meetings have revolved around the fact that people outside of Carbon County are excited to come and use the range. Some state, regional and even national organizations are interested in holding competitions in the area once the range is completed, as well.
Despite having to wait for the land deal to be finalized, not all activity toward making the range a reality has been shut down. Burge pointed out in his letter that both Dave Levanger, the county's director of planning and zoning, and Evan Hansen, the county engineer, are working on various aspects of the project so that it can get started as soon as possible.
"Hansen... will stake out the boundaries before the end of next week," explained Burge. "Once he has done so, we (the committee) need to visit the site together and walk the boundaries. One thing we need to do before the end of the withdrawal notice period is to justify in writing our need for the 1,400 acres... If there are acres we can leave out, then we need to address that."
Burge said that Levanger will be working with the architect and eventually the contractors when construction on the project begins.
Burge ended his correspondence assuring members of the committee that the project will get done and that he hopes that contractors will begin work before the winter sets in.
"As it stands today, it still appears feasible that we can start turning dirt in November," he stated.