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Arizona acquires 160-acre site for shooting range

From the Arizona Game and Fish Commission

-- The purchase of the 160-acre Foster Ranch property in Coconino County as the future site of the Northern Arizona Shooting Range is final, ending a 15-year project to benefit Arizona residents.

A public survey was used to shape the objectives of the shooting range, the top three concerns were to be located within 30 minutes from downtown Flagstaff, sized for a local range with potential to expand to regional range, and the ability to be operational by 2013.

Northern Arizona residents have been without a rifle and pistol shooting range since 1968. In 1994, closures of the local shotgun and archery ranges resulted in one of Arizona's largest communities being without a designated place for recreational shooting.

Surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, the property is located approximately 15 miles east of Flagstaff and five miles south of the Town of Winona. The property is in the mid 6,000 foot elevation, consisting of pinion-juniper and high country ground cover.

"The Coconino National Forest is looking forward to a safe, designated area for recreational shooting, especially one that offers youth development and hunter education programs," according to Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart. "We are prepared to work cooperatively with Game and Fish in the development of this long-needed range."

The $1.1 million property purchase came at no expense to taxpayers, state or local.

Because the Game and Fish receives no tax dollars from the state's general fund and operates under a user-pay, user-benefit model, the property was purchased and will be developed through the sale of licenses to hunters and anglers.

A $3 surcharge is imposed on hunting and fishing licenses to acquire, construct, renovate, or improve Game and Fish facilities. The fund for the development of the Northern Arizona Shooting Range was established beginning in 2001.

At this stage, no detailed site plans have been made. Properties for shooting ranges are selected based on key macro-level considerations, such as size, layout, safety, access, drainage, utilities, and other development considerations.

Before any development of the property can take place, there is a multitude of logistical planning required, including an environmental compliance checklist; coordination with the Coconino National Forest and Coconino County; developing a scope of work and timelines; and providing the public opportunities to give input to assist in the development of this local range.

Other factors such as funding, process time for of environmental compliances, resources, and weather will dictate a phased-in development approach of the Northern Arizona Shooting Range over the next three years and beyond.

The public is invited provide input on the range development plan at an informal open house Sept. 23 from 3-8 p.m. at the Game and Fish Flagstaff regional office,3500 S. Lake Mary Road. For those unable to attend, the same materials and an opportunity to submit comments will be available online at the same time at www.azgfd.gov/nazsr.

On display will be a very early conceptual site design, preliminary timelines for development, and an opportunity to provide comments. While no formal presentation will be made, key Game and Fish personnel and representatives from the Coconino National Forest will be available to provide information and answer questions.

A local or community range is typically 60 to 80 acres or more in size, and provides a multipurpose facility. Some features of a local range may include a 100-yard rifle sight-in and pistol range, a small bore/hunter education range, shotgun/clay target shooting  or trap, skeet and/or sporting clays in some cases, and archery venues.

Current information on the Northern Arizona Shooting Range is available by e-mail www.azgfd.gov/signup by selecting shooting sports news or by visiting http://www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/nazsr.shtml.

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