Shooting Complex Task Force says site proposals on federal land – like FreCo’s – should include timeline assurances

    The Wyoming State Shooting Complex Task Force met this month to review letters of interest from communities that would like to host the new facility.

    One letter, from a group in Sheridan, was submitted late, but the task force decided to accept it, meaning nine applicants will be eligible to respond to the official request for proposals that is scheduled to be released in April.

    The task force will use the letters of interest to further refine the request for proposals (RFP), which will be finalized during their next meeting on Tuesday, April 2, in Cheyenne.


    Federal land

    After reviewing the letters of interest, local task force member Cade Maestas said it will be important to make it clear in the RFP that the state is looking for land that offers multiple kinds of topography – not “just another flat piece of sage brush.”

    He also mentioned the “acquisition and construction timeframe,” which may make it difficult for the state to consider proposals that involve federal land.

    “We’re talking about from February of next year, with authorization and final approval at the state level, (to) trying to get shovels in the ground by July,” he said. “Some of these private acquisitions, and especially the federal acquisitions, are just probably not realistic timelines that some people have poured a lot of effort into.”

    Fremont County’s letter of interest identified two potential sites for the shooting range, both involving federal agencies: the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Land Management.


    “I thought we tried to discourage people from that” Wyoming Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, said. “I think it interjects (a) tremendous amount of uncertainty.”

    The task force “tried to make (it) pretty clear” that it would be difficult to “get a land transfer or even an easement” from a federal agency within the timeframe allotted for development of the shooting complex plan, Hicks said, suggesting that the RFP should include a requirement that any proposal to use federal land must come with some sort of “commitment” from the agency involved.

    Task force member Ron Gullberg with the Wyoming Business Council said that commitment should “at least” include a “letter of confirmation that a deal is feasible … in time for breaking ground in construction season 2025.”


    Joshua Coursey with the Muley Fanatic Foundation said the land acquisition question should be “at the top” of the list of factors the task force considers when reviewing community proposals.

    “If this is not going to be something that’s going to be able to meet the timeframe for potential construction, I think that’s priority No. 1 that we need to be able to determine,” he said. “Is that land even available and is it something that really continues to allow that application to move forward if it’s not?”

    Hicks said those were “my thoughts exactly.”


    “With some of these, I just don’t see how you would move forward based on that (timeline) criteria,” he said. “(Should we) just put the RFP out there and say, ‘Here’s what you have to deal with,’ and if you can’t guarantee that there’s land acquisition … in the next 18 months, you’re just eliminated?”

    Wyoming Rep. Art Washut, R-Casper, proposed including a “land acquisition plan” in the RFP, complete with “letters of commitment” and “timelines.”

    But Coursey pointed out that it might be challenging for small communities to secure those kinds of commitments from federal agencies.

    “I can’t imagine reaching out to the BLM or BOR if you’re a committee of stakeholders, particularly seeing the group (that submitted the) letter of interest from Fremont County,” he said. “Do they have the means to be able to get to a decision-maker that will have those discussions with them, or does that need to be held from the governor’s office or somewhere else?

    “I’m just trying to anticipate the realities of being able to provide something. Is that even feasible?”

    Washut agreed, noting that, even with state land, it might be difficult for a small, local committee to navigate the process.

    “Who has the ability to leverage decision-making?” Washut asked. “It may not be the local community that’s trying to put the range together. Maybe it does need to be moved up into the political realm to try and resolve some of those.”

    Hicks said he would work on developing the land acquisition language for the RFP before next week’s meeting.

    The task force anticipates publishing the RFP during the first half of April, with responses due in June.

    The task force will then invite the top-ranked applicants to give more formal presentations about their proposed sites.

    Those presentations will help the task force decide which sites to visit in person in July before making a final selection to recommend to a legislative committee.


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