Shooting complex at Cameo in sights

The idea to develop a large-scale shooting and outdoor education complex — primarily being pressed by the town of Palisade for the Cameo area — is gaining some heft with the support of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“We’re looking at developing a range that is more than just a rifle range. What we would like it to be is a complex,” said Ron Velarde, co-manager of Parks and Wildlife’s northwest region.

“We are moving forward. We have (the Department of Natural Resources’) support, we have our director’s support,” Velarde said, adding that numerous questions still remain concerning funding, location and eventual site management.

He said Parks and Wildlife is working on a plan to present to the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, which has been charged with analyzing proposed offers for Xcel Energy’s Cameo property in De Beque Canyon.

That site is eyed by the town of Palisade for the shooting complex. The town’s Board of Trustees signed off on a letter last week expressing its support.

“The addition of a complex for the advancement of responsible handling of all types of firearms, archery and the opportunity for the education of our youth in an outdoor environment is priceless,” town trustees wrote.

In a recent executive summary about the proposal for Cameo, Parks and Wildlife explained how building shooting ranges is part of its overall goals for the state.

Parks and Wildlife offers $500,000 every year for range development grants and says it has funded a dozen projects to date. Officials say they are “committed to build two new ranges in each of (the) four regions in the coming years.”

They further recounted a recent attempt by the then-Division of Wildlife, which set aside $12 million to build a large-scale shooting and education complex near the Denver metro area. That project fell apart when local political opposition scotched the deal.

The Cameo summary goes into great detail about what’s envisioned: A main range with 67 positions and distances from 5 yards to 200 yards, a clay target center, archery ranges, specialty ranges including one high-power range, multiple pistol ranges, indoor classrooms and a fully equipped pro shop.

Parks and Wildlife further touts the area’s close proximity to the camping and recreational opportunities of the Island Acres section of the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park.

“There’s a great deal of pent-up demand for a facility of this type. It would serve multiple benefits,” Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said.

“It desperately needs to happen somewhere in Colorado, and in my opinion and I think (Parks and Wildlife’s), it should be on the Western Slope,” said JT Romatzke, an area wildlife manager with Parks and Wildlife. “We’re going to keep pushing it — hard.”


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