PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Great idea, but not today — and maybe never.
That’s the message a South Dakota legislative panel sent the state Game, Fish and Parks Department on Tuesday about a big-time shooting range proposed near Rapid City.
The vote was 8-5.
Lobbyists for National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association, Izaak Walton League and Elevate Rapid City testified for the project that GFP wants along Elk Vale Road three miles into Meade County.
Ranchers whose properties are next to, or nearby, the proposed site spoke against it, as did a South Dakota Stockgrowers lobbyist.
Tom Kirschenmann, director for the state Wildlife Division, presented the plan. Representative Nancy York, R-Watertown, told him, “You definitely have p.r. work to do.”
The project was on the wish list of Governor Kristi Noem. In a detailed outline of the plan, the governor said the complex “will provide opportunities so that generations to come can learn to love shooting sports just as I did.”
Representative Marty Overweg, R-New Holland, chairs the committee. He said it would be unfair to have taxpayers from his area help fund a project 300 miles away.
Representative Rocky Blare, R-Ideal, said he originally supported the project but saw Tuesday that the landowners’ concerns hadn’t been addressed. “Obviously that’s not all fine,” Blare said. “It’s not ready for prime time until you get these landowners involved.”
Representative Caleb Finck, R-Tripp, called it “a fantastic project” that still has some important issues unresolved, such as what happens to three miles of gravel road, and the still-unclear sources of funds to operate the site after it’s built.
Said Representative Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade, “I just wish you had more questions answered before you brought this to us.”