Bellemont Shooting Range Takes Major Step Forward
After almost eight years of study, the Bellemont Shooting range near Flagstaff took a major step forward last week with final approval of a land exchange package between the Coconino National Forest and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.
Following a formal review of the proposed land exchange, the Forest Service National Lands Adjustment Team in Washington, D. C. gave its approval to the specifics of the exchange package. The U.S. Forest Service then issued a final decision memo on the exchange of 700-plus acres of land with the Arizona Game and Fish Commission for a shooting facility near Bellemont, outside Flagstaff.
"This is good news. It will allow us to speed up the process of completing this highly-anticipated new multi-use facility and allow us to start the construction bid process," says Duane Shroufe, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The final decision memo completes formal Forest Service public involvement and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements for the exchange that was started in 1995. This decision notice allowed Forest Service officials and the Arizona Game and Fish Department director to sign the formal agreement to exchange documents. The Forest Service will get equal value lands located in various National Forests across Arizona from the Game and Fish Commission. All of the commission lands exchanged will continue to be managed with a primary wildlife focus by the Forest Service.
Flagstaff is one of Arizona's largest cities without a formal shooting facility. For more than 10 years community members, local agency representatives and shooting sport enthusiasts have been working to develop a multi-use facility in the Flagstaff area.
In 1995, the Coconino National Forest and the Arizona Game and Fish Department initiated the current range development process. More than 16 sites were evaluated and an intensive Environmental Assessment was completed for the Bellemont project.
Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Mike Golightly has been a champion of the Bellemont range since joining the Commission in 1993. "This agreement to exchange has been far too long in coming. The sooner we start constructing the range, the better it will be for the whole community. Having a safe and well managed facility for recreational shooting in the Flagstaff area continues to be a priority for the Arizona Game and Fish Department."