Site for shooting range still under discussion

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County working group weighing criteria for possible location

By Sandy Barnes

A working group continues to discuss potential locations in Jeffco for a county-owned public shooting range, and open-space land appears to be a possibility. 

For the past two months, Jeffco Parks and Open Space Director Tom Hoby, county planning staff, a mediator and others have been discussing a possible location for a shooting range and its costs.

“It’s a delicate issue,” Hoby said. 

Finding an appropriate location for the facility in heavily populated Jeffco is a challenge, he said. Funding is another major issue, Hoby added.

“The location can drive up the cost,” he noted. 

The shooting range may or may not be sited on Jeffco Open Space. “I don’t think it’s fair to assume that it would be on Open Space property,” Hoby said.

The county commissioners asked for the study after hearing from individuals and organizations that expressed interest in a shooting range.

“There are mothers and fathers who want a safe, controlled area for their children to shoot and improve on their marksmanship skills,” Jeffco Commissioner Don Rosier said in an e-mail to the Courier. “Requests have come from the young and the young at heart. They have been from hunters, professional shooters, clubs, private business and those who wish to train for personal defense.”

Rather than identifying specific locations for the range, the working group is developing a list of general areas where it could be located.

At a previous meeting, the group discussed locations in Coal Creek Canyon, near Golden Gate Canyon State Park, and on privately held lands north of Golden Gate Road and south of Crawford Gulch Road. Hoby also has suggested checking into quarry locations as possible options.

Considerations for acceptable locations include areas that are a half mile from residences, a quarter mile from recreational areas, and within 30 minutes' drive of C-470 and Interstate 70.

In selecting sites, the working group is considering sound and noise pollution and possible effects on wildlife and natural areas. The land's slope also is a factor. Land for a shooting range should have a grade of 20 percent or less, according to the group’s findings.

Up to 6 acres needed

The acreage required for a shooting range is another issue.

Jeffco planner Russ Clark said the facility should be located on property that allows for adequate buffering from residential and commercial sites, as well as room for expansion.

A site approximately 6 acres in size with a half-mile buffer would be within the criteria the group discussed. 

The facility could have 10 to 15 lanes 220 yards long and 40 yards wide for rifle and pistol shooting and would include space for classrooms, a small office and restrooms. Clark suggested a family shooting area that would be limited to .22-caliber and BB guns. 

While discussing funding for the shooting range, Hoby said that a source has not been determined. If the county commissioners decide to move forward with the project, grants would be pursued along with proceeds from the state lottery, he said.

In making a decision about the range, Hoby advised looking at other outdoor ranges as benchmarks to determine costs to build and operate it. 

Hoby is preparing a report of the group’s findings, which he will present to the county commissioners on July 22.

“This is the discovery phase of the project,” Hoby said. “If we want to move to the next level, the important thing will be the ability (of the community) to be involved and comment on the project.”

Margot Zallon of the land-conservation group PLAN Jeffco said her organization is waiting to see results of the feasibility study and the county commissioners’ decision before commenting on the shooting range. Zallon said she does not necessarily see the project as directly related to open space.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.