This wasn’t your usual groundbreaking. It started with a bang. Literally! as a 6-pound civil war light artillery cannon fired off the opening salvo of what should be an approximately18-month long construction period for a new gun range on the west side of the Utah Lake just off Soldier Pass Road.
On April 5, 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) West Desert District announced that Utah County had received a patent for 160 acres of public lands near Soldier Pass road in the Lake Mountains of Utah County. Utah County applied to receive the acreage under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act and announced plans to construct a public shooting range on the property.
Officials from Utah County, BLM, SITLA (School and Institutional Trusts Lands Administration), Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources, Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain were on hand to celebrate the start of construction on the much anticipated recreational shooting range. The hope of government officials is that the new county shooting range will improve safety, cut down on litter and help protect the rock art that is scattered across the Lake Mountains.
When completed the current plans call for two 25-yard ranges, two 50-yard ranges, one 100-yard range and one 300-yard range with each range consisting of about 10 shooting stations according to county officials.
In 2012 the BLM closed nearly 900 acres to shooting after complaints that people were shooting over highways and toward houses, as well as wildfires being started from shooting on the mountain.
"The county’s plan to provide a safe, organized target shooting range in the Lake Mountains area is a great step forward. We will continue to work closely with the Utah county and the public as we manage the public lands in the Lake Mountains." said Kevin Oliver, West Desert District Manager.
The BLM is still trying to determine whether it will open the 900 acres it closed in 2012 to target shooting or whether to make the ban permanent. A public meeting on the issue was held Wednesday, May 11 in Saratoga Springs.
The project to transfer the 160 acres of federal lands to Utah County has taken approximately two years. The concept was originally developed as the BLM and the county considered ways to mitigate target shooting conflicts in the area.