ST. GEORGE – Constructing a shooting range in the South Hills area of Santa Clara has long been seen by city and county officials as a solution to a potential safety hazard in the increasingly popular recreation spot.
The Washington County Commission took steps this week to bring the creation of a shooting range closer to reality.
The South Hills area has long been used by as an informal, albeit scattered site for target shooting. It’s also becoming increasingly popular with ATV riders, cyclists and hikers.
“We’re starting to get a lot of conflicts to the point it’s scary and we need to do something about it,” Washington County Commissioner Zachary Renstrom said.
The last thing anyone wants is for a stray bullet to injure or kill someone, Renstrom and others have said.
The scattered target shooting locations not only create a potentially lethal hazard, but also create areas of litter and debris.
The Washington County Commission on Tuesday passed a resolution supporting the creation of the shooting range. The land on which the shooting range would be built is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, so the county has also submitted an application to acquire it for the project.
“The BLM has been really great to work with on identifying a spot that’s safe,” Renstrom said.
BLM spokesman Christian Venhuizen confirmed in an email that the agency has received a portion of the application.
“It is always exciting to consider ways to work with local communities to share stewardship of public lands and provide outdoor recreation opportunities,” Venhuizen said.
The shooting range is slated to feature spots for long- and short-distance shooting, as well as shotgun and pistol shooting and archery, according to the county’s application.
The shooting range will be free to the public, with operations and maintenance funds being provided through the county’s recreation funds.
Santa Clara City has also been closely involved in the process, Mayor Rick Rosenberg said, as the potential safety hazard target shooting in the same area as other recreation pursuits has been a concern for many years.
“We are working closely with the county and the BLM to develop plans for a proposed shooting range and the City Council strongly supports the current proposal and application to the BLM,” Rosenberg said in an email Friday.
While the county will be funding the operation and upkeep of the shooting range, Santa Clara will provide access to the shooting range from existing roadway infrastructure.
The county’s application noted that the proposed location of the shooting range is in an area that has been “designated to protect populations and habitat for listed plant species.” Those plants are the Dwarf Bearclaw Poppy and Holmgren milk-vetch.
At the moment it is unknown if populations of either plant exist within the proposed project site.
This and other potential items will be vetted by the BLM as it considers the county’s application.
“Once the application is complete, we will be able to begin our due diligence,” Venhuizen said.
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