Steamboat Springs The Routt County Rifle Club was born just after the start of World War II by an informal group of local shooters. I have not been able to find any exact names or records. Surely, Elwood Bradley was one of them.
Elwood and all the people who knew are all gone. At any rate, the club was formalized by about 1948, and the present property was used as a rifle range. Purchase of the 40-acre tract was started about that time and paid off by 1959.
After thousands of hours of volunteer labor and money over 60-odd years, we now have a clubhouse, skeet, trap, duck tower and five-stand facilities for shotgun shooters; bermed areas out to 250 yards for rifle and pistol shooters; and an indoor range for small-bore rifle and pistol shooters. The latter is primarily for juniors, but law officers also use it. (An interesting side note is that the club owned the old fish hatchery on Yampa Street and used it as an indoor range from the '60s to the '80s. It was then exchanged, with the help of the city, for the present indoor range and is now the Yacht Club Restaurant). The DOW is permitted a building and staging area. Archers and biathlon trainees use the range. FFA holds events there. Membership at present is about 320. All law enforcement agencies are members or are free to use the range. Included in this group are Colorado State Patrol, Steamboat Springs Police Department, Routt County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Forest Service, All Crimes Enforcement Team and Division of Wildlife.
Fast-forward to March 2007, when the Steamboat 700 growth gorilla appeared and bought the property on two sides of the range. The handwriting was on the wall - a gun range bounded by a subdivision was not compatible. Club officers started looking for another location immediately, and they still are looking. It seems that shooting ranges are NIMBYs everywhere. So, if annexation of the adjacent property happens, the community loses one of its best amenities.
Selling out and disbanding looks imminent within the next few years. Is the loss of the Routt County Rifle Club amenity and near doubling of the traffic congestion/parking/over-population woes worth it? I am sure it is to a majority of the present City Council. Also to most Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association members. They are locked into the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which is a flawed and suspect fiat to increase certain land values and to promote "prosperity." Low-income housing (aka "affordable" housing) is the carrot dangled before our elected officials by all developers.
Perhaps the adjusting (declining) housing market will take care of the low-income housing problem. At any rate, do we want the concept of "affordable" housing to govern how much rampant growth we accept?
Which brings us to the subject of a public vote on annexation of the Steamboat 700 speculation. City Council has been mute on this as far as I know. Only the Editorial Board of the Pilot has taken a public stand - against it. I think the council majority remembers the infamous DDA proposal being voted down by a two-thirds margin some years ago, and they do not want to risk losing the Steamboat 700 plum the same way. Did anyone notice the Pilot poll result on the annexation vote - 57 percent in favor?
I have hinted to the Community Alliance that they should circulate a petition to force a vote unless the council declares itself in favor. No response. I believe their board members are enchanted by the "affordable" housing thing - a growth promoter and treadmill.
Omar M. Campbell