SD Game Fish and Parks met with opposition over proposed gun range

New outdoor range would be north of Rapid City off of  Elk Vale Road.
New outdoor range would be north of Rapid City off of Elk Vale Road.
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 5:20 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - It was supposed to be one of the largest shooting complexes in the nation, but the proposed gun range outside of Rapid City didn’t survive its initial hearing in the South Dakota Legislature.

Still, plans are moving forward.

Senate Bill 175 was referred to the Senate Ag and Natural Resources Committee in an attempt to receive 5 million dollars in funding for the range…

“Yeah, we do want to see this happen and we want to continue to move forward.”

However, if the bill doesn’t pass…GFP still plans to build the complex using alternative funding.

At Tuesday’s Meade County Commissioners Meeting, concerns were raised from ranchers who own land that borders the property the gun range would be built on.

“My main concern is the way that Game Fish and Parks has handled this,” said Matthew Kammerer, one of the ranchers.

“They’re not only telling us as citizens, you as commissioners that we don’t care what you guys think or the public process, we’re going to get this done one way or the other. I don’t think that’s right and as citizens and taxpayers, I don’t think that should sit right with you guys as well,” said another rancher at the meeting.

“If they’re going to build it, then do what everybody else has to do and go through the right channels to do it and don’t expect everyone to change their way of life because you’re coming into their community,” said Kammerer.

“We’ve heard a few concerns from the neighbors; safety, fire, and crime in the area, issues with Elk View Road,” said South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Section Chief, John Kanta.

“The road is a gravel road and it’s terrible in the spring. I mean, it can get 6–8-inch ruts on it and so slimy it’s a danger and it’s 3 miles of it. If you’re going to build a $10 million range if you’re going to build that, why do you want a gravel road in front of it?” questioned Krammerer.

Kanta claims they’re on top of that. “We’re working with the highway department here in Meade County to put together an agreement to commit us to helping with wear and tear from additional use of that road as a result of the complex.”

To prevent fires GF&P plans to dig a fire line around the property and keep some equipment on site.

“We won’t be able to fight a major fire, but we can provide an initial response to that fire,” said Kanta and added if the fire was out of their hands, they would call for help.

Kanta also said the firing range would benefit surrounding communities by offering them a place to shoot.

“90%, approximately 90%, of Meade County residents will be within minutes of this facility and will have the opportunity to use it and we feel like a lot of them will,” said Kanta and added that potential shooting competitions could provide a stimulus to surrounding towns with a boost in business.

The next step for GF&P is to complete the finishing touches on design plans.

If everything goes according to plan, construction could start as soon as May.

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