The Wyoming Legislature created a new task force this year that will look into building a “destination” shooting complex somewhere in the state.
Shoshoni Mayor Joel Highsmith thinks the group should consider Fremont County as a potential location.
“There’s some indication central Wyoming would be a good place,” he said during a Shoshoni Town Council meeting this week. “I think Fremont County – (and) of course I’m leaning toward Shoshoni.”
He is currently “working on” his colleagues in the Fremont County Association of Governments “to get their support” for the idea, and he has asked the Wyoming State Shooting Association about “jumping (on) board with us” too – but regardless, Highsmith said, “I know our rifle committee is going to be looking into that.”
“A lack of space and motels and stuff may hinder us, but we’ve got a great location (with) Thermopolis and Riverton … within driving distance,” Highsmith said. “I think it’s worth looking into, so we are actively pursuing that. (It’s) on our radar.”
‘It could go anywhere’
Lawmakers who sponsored the task force bill this session said cities and counties throughout the state will be able to submit proposals for the shooting complex project if they’re interested in hosting the facility.
“We didn’t want to prejudice this,” Wyoming Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, told the Senate Appropriations Committee in January. “(We’ll) let our communities compete for this opportunity to participate in this program.”
Wyoming Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton – an Appropriations Committee member who is also listed as a co-sponsor on the bill – asked Hicks to “reassure” him that towns in “rural Wyoming, such as Dubois” would not be “precluded from having the opportunity to have a chance at something like this.”
Wyoming Rep. Art Washut, R-Casper – another co-sponsor on the bill – offered Salazar that reassurance.
“It’s not predetermined it’s going to go to a large, urban area,” Washut said. “I don’t think that any place in Wyoming is excluded. … It really comes down to the desire of that local community to host this place and what kind of partnerships they’re able to strike with their local community and landowners and so forth.
“It could go anywhere.”
Only two Fremont County legislators voted against the task force bill this session: Wyoming Rep. Sarah Penn, R-Lander, and Wyoming Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander.
During debate in the Wyoming House of Representatives, Penn said she was concerned about the expenses associated with the shooting complex now and in the future.
“Is this something … that’s going to keep coming back asking for more money?” she asked, recommending the topic undergo more study during the interim.
Wyoming Rep. Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton, also asked about the money involved in the project, suggesting that a “state subsidy” for a shooting range is not “the proper role of government,” but she later voted in favor of the bill on third reading in the House.