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Officials take first steps to open shooting range near Cameo

Bench installed to discourage random shooting; spring dedication planned

By Gary Harmon
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Shooters will soon be able to take aim at Palisade’s new Cameo shooting range in De Beque Canyon while planning continues for the development of a top-line range.

By setting up some shooting benches on the site, officials hope to discourage random shooting as town and state officials move ahead with plans for a “First Shot” dedication this spring, Town Administrator Rich Sales said.

Sales and others this week discussed development plans for the Cameo range with Clark Vargas, a Florida-based shooting-range designer, impressing Vargas enough that he stayed an extra day to visit the site.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and others are to be invited to break ground in mid-April, at the site north of the Colorado River and behind the Bookcliffs, Sales said.

The site was long home to Xcel Energy’s Cameo station, an aging coal-fired plant that was decommissioned and demolished.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other agencies are working with Vargas to make the most of the site, which organizers hope will attract 50,000 visitors a year, many of whom will spend a night or more and eat at restaurants or take part in other activities in the Grand Valley.

“The bench we’re talking about, it is incredibly beautiful, but also challenging,” Sales told Vargas in the meeting at the Parks and Wildlife offices in Grand Junction.

Plans also call for “pro shops” at the various shooting venues — archery, rifle, pistol, shotgun — as well as indoor classrooms for hunter education, concealed-carry and other classes, and indoor shooting ranges.

Officials aren’t looking to displace sporting goods stores or ammunition suppliers.

“We want to build something that’s complementary,” said J.T. Romatzke, Grand Junction area wildlife manager, noting that shooters sometimes need an extra box of ammunition or the like and ought not have to leave the complex to make small purchases.

Palisade used state grants to buy the shooting range land from Xcel and the Snowcap Coal Co., as well as pay for surveying and engineering plans.

Officials hope that ultimately the range will be a benefit to the entire valley, Sales said.

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