Number of shooting ranges has declined in state

Wildlife agencies from Colorado, Utah and other western states often use public shooting ranges to teach hunter education course and introduce novice shooters to proper firearms handling. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is sponsoring a bill to held fund the development of more public shooting ranges.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has reintroduced The Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, aimed at funneling more money to building and maintaining public shooting ranges on federal land.

Udall unsuccessfully tried similar legislation in 2008 and 2009.

“Shooting ranges have become scarce in Colorado, both on and off public lands, and the ones that remain are poorly maintained,” Udall said in a statement. “There’s an obvious need for this legislation and a for lot of support from outdoors groups and people worried about the impacts of dispersed shooting.”

According to Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, the number of shooting ranges in Colorado has declined in the past decade.

Udall’s proposal would allow states to charge the federal government 90 percent of the cost of acquiring lands for public shooting ranges using fees from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration act, better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. This sportsmen-backed act collects a tax on ammunition and firearms used for hunting.

That money is then redistributed to the states based on hunting license sales.

Merger warned of “wedge issues”: During a recent meeting with Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife Director Rick Cables, the Wildlife Management Institute cautioned the leaders of the new state agency of so-called “wedge issues” caused in part by the “subtle and not-so-subtle differences” in the responsibilities of the former divisions of parks and wildlife.

“Some of the issues will manifest on their own and some will be exploited by individuals in one program or the other,” the WMI report said.

The Washington, D.C.-based WMI is a private scientific and educational organization dedicated to the conservation and professional management of wildlife.

The WMI also warned the Division of Parks and Wildlife to avoid diversion of license funds or federal aid monies which are closely restricted as to their use.

According the WMI, this diversion not only means direct misuse of funds but such unlikely misuse such as vehicles, equipment and lands.

Other challenges facing the new agency include the consolidation of staffs and functions; law enforcement; developing political support and a constituent base and merging the agencies’ respective cultures.

“Sometimes, the issues that seem least important to agency management can become extremely divisive to field level staff,” the report says.

Getting the employees involved in the decision-making process can minimize many unforeseen problems, the report says.


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