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Fremont County shot down on shooting complex

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Via the Wyoming News Exchange

LANDER (WNE) — Fremont County has lost its bid to be the site of a multi-million-dollar shooting complex, after the legislative task force charged with determining the best spot culled the list of contenders.

Now, Casper, Cheyenne, Cody and Gillette will each vie to be host for what state leaders are hoping will be both a world-class facility and world-wide draw for shooters.

The task force is expected to meet on Monday and hear presentations from the narrowed list of potential hosts.

“This was not a surprise,” explained Shoshoni Mayor Joel Highsmith, who helped lead efforts for Fremont County’s bid for the shooting complex.

One of the things that set Fremont County’s application apart was the size of the two proposed sites – both near Shoshoni, one at 12,200 acres and the other up to 40,000.

While state leaders estimated far fewer acres would be needed, Fremont County’s team believed that to truly be a world-class facility, the shooting complex would need more land, and more room to grow.

But the land is likely at the heart of the reason the county’s bid was rejected.

Both proposed sites included federal land, one owned entirely by the Bureau of Reclamation, the other in part by the Bureau of Land Management.

“I know the reason was too much federal land,” Highsmith noted. “There is a path forward to gain ownership of federal land for something like this, but the task force didn’t seem willing to take that time.”

With a tight timeline – lawmakers are expected to consider releasing $10 million during the next legislative session in support of the new shooting complex – the idea of wrestling with the federal government to even get started was unappealing.

This story was published on June 19,  2024.

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