ST. GEORGE — A partial reopening of the Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park was approved by county officials Wednesday following a meeting to discuss safety needs and corrective measures to increase park security.
The Washington County Commission approved the park’s reopening with the stipulation events held by the various clubs using the park, as well as their hours of operation, be clearly scheduled and that the Hurricane Police Department be made aware of them.
The Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park is set to reopen Thursday.
The park, which is located just past the Washington County Regional Park, or fairgrounds, in Hurricane, was partially closed at the end of November due to safety concerns expressed by residents of errant rounds landing on private property, bullet strikes and reports to local law enforcement.
Present at the special County Commission meeting were representatives of the Shooting Sports Park Special Service District and other interested parties.
Proposals were requested for range analysis by the County Commission and time was needed to address fencing, and other safety measures.
The Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park is home to six recreational shooting venues: Purgatory Clays, Red Cliffs Rifle/Pistol Range, Cowboy Action (Dixie Desperados), Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range, Archery (RedRock Bowmen) and Blackpowder (High Valley Mountain Men).
The first issue addressed concerned fencing. Different areas in the Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park have been measured to have fences and gates installed that would allow each venue more control over its space, as well as the ability to secure it, said Ron Whitehead, director of Washington County Public Works Department.
It was decided that Kirkland Fencing would provide expertise and materials and the county will provide a work crew, including jail inmates, to install the fencing, Whitehead said.
It was determined that a 6-foot chain link fence will be installed on the northerly side of the road from the front of the park to reduce the possibility of unsupervised shooting and shooting on other venues.
Another 1,400 feet of fencing will be installed on the west side to control access to other ranges and to secure the park as a whole. Gates will also be installed throughout the park to provide security and access control to each venue.
This will also keep individuals from entering the park and shooting after hours, Whitehead said, which could be a contributing factor to the increase in complaints.
Range analysis and assessment was also discussed. The county requested bids from the National Rifle Association and Mt2 Firing Range Services to conduct the analysis and assessment.
After some discussion it was decided that the NRA will send a specialist out to conduct range analysis and testing to determine what measures need to be taken to address any security risks.
Ballistics testing was also discussed, and will be addressed once the analysis from the NRA is received, Commissioner Victor Iverson said.
The NRA was also involved in the original design of the range approximately 14 years ago, so there may be documentation that can assist with the testing that will begin in the first part of January.
The board accepted a motion to allow the clubs at the shooting sports park to continue to hold events. That means the Red Cliffs Rifle/Pistol Range is open for public shooting yet must inform the Hurricane Police Department of the hours they will be shooting.
Red Cliffs Rifle/Pistol Range has always maintained a record of those shooting at its venue but will now list the caliber being fired as well, said David Brader, president of the Red Cliffs Rifle and Pistol Association.
The reopening is particularly important for this venue as they operate entirely from funds generated by public use and have been hit hard by the closure.
“It is fantastic,” Brader said. “Being closed has really hurt Red Cliffs Rifle and Pistol Association badly, we depend on the public for our income.”
The main object is to gain control of who is shooting, from where they are shooting and what is being fired out of the range, Commissioner Victor Iverson said.
“I think we’ve done a good job with that,” Iverson said.
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