Guv backs shooting range
An effort to build an ambitious sport shooting range and education center at the old Cameo power plant in De Beque Canyon got a powerful booster on Friday.
Gov. John Hickenlooper said he was fully behind the idea, so long as all the legal and monetary details could be worked out.
The governor took a tour of the site on his way back to Denver after a brief overnight stop in Grand Junction for a campaign fundraiser and to discuss economic development issues with area business leaders.
“This is something that really is important for Mesa County and Grand Junction, and we’ll try to see if we can find a way to get it done,” Hickenlooper told business leaders, county commissioners and members of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, who have been working on the idea for some months.
“I believe it would be important to the entire state, and would be a one-of-a-kind facility,” Commissioner Steve Acquafresca told the governor.
“I wouldn’t argue with you for a second,” the governor replied.
The project, which has a long way to go before it can become reality, calls for more than just a rifle-shooting range. Plans include a variety of shooting experiences that include long-bore rifles, shotguns, clay pigeon shooting, handguns and archery. It also could include indoor training classes to teach hunter-safety courses and a pro shop where shooters can purchase everything from ammunition to arrows.
“The shooting sports are immensely popular in these West Slope communities,” Acquafresca said. “It’s a big part of our culture and our history. We just don’t have enough shooting opportunities to meet the demand.”
To get the project done, state and local officials first have to work out deals to purchase the 1,200-acre site, which is owned by Xcel Energy and Snow Cap Mining Co. Then they would have to come up with grant funds to build the facility.
Getting the governor’s strong blessing could help get that done sooner.
CPW has long-range plans to build two new ranges in each of its four regions of the state, and has identified the Cameo site as one with the best prospects here. It offers $500,000 annual grants for such projects.
The division recently helped open the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex on land owned by Fort Carson.
That 400-acre facility, which includes 120 shooting positions on seven ranges, was a joint project among local, state and federal authorities. CPW put $200,000 toward the $750,000 cost of constructing the complex’s first phase, with promises for more funding for the second two phases. It now is the largest public range in the state.
Though the Cameo range is projected to be smaller — about 67 shooting positions — it still would be a major economic boon for the region, area officials said.
“Our winter months are pretty slow,” Palisade Town Administrator Richard Sales told the governor. “This would be a facility that would be in use year-around, so in order to fill our businesses and fill our streets in the entire Grand Valley, we see this as a really important piece of economic development.”