State may buy land for Cameo gun range

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hoping that late next year it can buy land at the old Cameo power plant for a shooting range.

Gov. John Hickenlooper recently also reiterated his support for the project and voiced confidence that it will become a reality.

“I think we can get that done,” he said Monday at the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado meeting in Rifle.

He was responding to Palisade Mayor Roger Granat, who asked him whether the project was still in the works.

“I think it’s happening,” said Hickenlooper, who said that the last he’d heard, sketches and plans for the project were being drafted.

“I haven’t heard anything but that we’re going forward,” Hickenlooper said.

He also said he told those working on the project that if there’s a problem with it, to let him know. And he said it’s his understanding those involved are hoping to move forward to make the project happen in 2014, but he said he would check on the project status and get back with Palisade about it.

While the project isn’t a done deal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said in an emailed statement Friday that the agency “will continue its cooperative efforts with our various partners” to make the shooting complex a reality.

“One of the first steps is securing the properties, which we are working to accomplish in late 2014. To this end, we appreciate the governor’s strong support for our efforts to bring a world-class shooting and education complex to western Colorado,” he said.

Project supporters see the shooting range as a means for the site to again contribute to the economy. The land is owned by Xcel Energy and Snow Cap Mining Co.

Immediately laughing at his inadvertent metaphor, Hickenlooper told the Rifle audience this week that there are always people who want to take potshots at a project like the one being pursued.

“They get agitated about it,” he said, without elaborating on any concerns.

But he added, “I think we got all of that calmed down. … I think we’ve got everybody on the same page.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been working to provide new or updated public shooting ranges across the state, Porras noted.

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife understands the need for public shooting facilities where sportsmen and shooting enthusiasts can practice in safe conditions.”

Granat said Friday that “everything still is kind of speculative” until something official comes from Hickenlooper or Xcel.

“But I was very encouraged by the response of the governor and his people who were with him,” Granat said.

The site is outside Palisade, but inside the town’s municipal water service area. While it also would benefit from visitation to the shooting range, “this isn’t just something for Palisade. This will have a dramatic effect on the economy of the entire area,” he said.

Granat said that if, for example, 250 or more shooters show up at a competitive event, hotels and restaurants beyond Palisade would benefit.

“We’re not going to be able to handle that big of a volume, but the entire valley could,” he said.


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