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February 05, 2013 8:57 am

Recreation district might get shooting range land this time

Written by Gib Mathers

Enzi aims for Powell land transfer

If the bill goes through this time around, the Powell Recreation District will gain possession of the shooting range land currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

The 322-acre shooting range presently in use is south of Powell on Road 5 and Lane 10. The district has had a special recreation permit with the bureau to operate the shooting range. Heart Mountain Rod and Gun Club has been under contract with the district to manage the facility.

The land transfer bill has been making its rounds through the U.S. Congress since 2011.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced the legislation.

In November 2011, Enzi introduced the bill in the Senate to transfer ownership of bureau land to the district. The bill passed the Senate, but not the House of Representatives. The House didn’t have the time to consider the bill before it adjourned, said Daniel Patrick Head, Enzi’s press secretary. 

If a bill does not pass, it is officially dead and must be introduced again during a new session.

The bill passed the Senate Dec. 30, 2012, but again, the House didn’t have time to act on the bill, Head said.

So, Enzi introduced the bill in January 2013. The bill must pass the Senate and House. Then it can be signed into law or vetoed by the president.

“To the best of my knowledge, there is no cost associated with the land transfer,” Head said.

An environmental assessment, including an environmental site investigation was completed in 2008.

If the bill is passed this year, another environmental assessment will likely be required. Although they have no timeline, completing the assessment should not take long.

“The Powell Recreation District should not incur any cost for this,” said Sarah Beckwith, BLM spokesperson in Worland.

Since the land is currently used as a shooting range it is logical that it continue as such, said Colby Stenerson, director of the Powell Recreation District.

Everyone involved agrees it should remain a shooting range, Enzi said.

The bureau favors the transfer and would like to see the land remain a shooting range, Beckwith said.

The land is barren and dry. There is no farming or irrigation near the shooting range or near the old landfill just north of the facility.

“What would you do with it?” asked Bob Smith, secretary of Rod and Gun. “It’s not what you would call prime land.”

“The people of Powell have been running the gun range for years and have a better understanding of how to manage the land than anyone in Washington could,” Enzi said. “Those who use the land would clearly be the best managers of the land.”

The district has been working since 2005 to obtain the land, said Head in December 2011.

It has taken nearly three years to get the bill re-introduced.

“We’re satisfied with the work Sen. Enzi has put into it, and we appreciate his efforts,” Stenerson said.

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