NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify that 7 0 Ranch transferred the land directly to the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation, rather than Jim Scull, who signed the purchase agreement. Reporter Bob Mercer apologizes for the error.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission isn’t waiting for money from the Legislature to purchase the land for a proposed mega-shooting range near Rapid City.

Commissioners on Thursday afternoon passed a resolution to purchase the property in Meade County. Governor Kristi Noem wants the range.

The resolution calls for the commission to pay $900,000 for the 400-acre site. Rapid City businessman Jim Scull signed the purchase agreement and 7 0 Ranch manager Kenneth Cassens transferred the land to the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the not-for-profit arm of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department.

The foundation president is Spencer Hawley of Brookings, a past member of the GFP commission and a former Democrat legislator. Among the foundation’s current board members are commission vice-chair Doug Sharp of Watertown and GFP Secretary Kevin Robling.

The site is on Elk Vale Road northeast of Rapid City. The resolution and a map are on pages 87-88 in the commission’s meeting booklet.

The department’s request for $2.5 million of state funds and $2.5 million in other authority to help pay for the range’s development was rejected by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on January 25. Neighboring ranchers have opposed the range.

Senator David Johnson, R-Rapid City, introduced a similar bill on February 1. The Senate approved it 28-7 but the House Committee on Appropriations killed it 7-2 Thursday morning after a lengthy hearing Wednesday.

Representative John Mills, R-Volga, made the motion. He said that GFP would probably go with a scaled-down version. Representative Taffy Howard, R-Rapid City, said GFP would have no trouble raising the money on its own. “This bill was not necessary,” Howard said.

The appropriations chairman, Representative Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls, said GFP came to the committee “after the fact” seeking a stamp of approval for the project. “That doesn’t sit well with me. It’s going to go ahead no matter what,” he said.

Karr referred to the January rejection of the project by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “What’s the point of having that policy input if we’re not going to take it into consideration?” he asked.

However, the appropriators were forced Thursday afternoon to release the bill through a legislative procedure known as a smoke-out by Representative Roger Chase, R-Huron. He’s the bill’s House sponsor.

The then committee reported it out “without recommendation.” That means the House will need at least 36 representatives to support putting it on the debate calendar Monday.