The Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex, Colorado's newest and largest outdoor shooting range, opens to the public at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Fort Carson. An invitation-only "ribbon shooting" ceremony precedes the public opening at 11 a.m. Public use of the range is free of charge until 4 p.m. today, and $10 per day thereafter.

The joint project among Fort Carson, El Paso County, the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife encompasses a 400-acre site on Fort Carson land near Interstate 25, just off mile marker 132. The shooting range entrance is outside Fort Carson's Gate 20 security perimeter, so visitors will not have to enter the military base or register their weapons with Fort Carson.

Wednesday's opening completes the first of a three-phase construction plan. The complex consists of seven shooting ranges with approximately 120 covered shooting positions. Three ranges are designated for rifles with distances from 300-500 yards. There are four designated pistol ranges and one multiposition range prioritized for law enforcement and public safety training purposes.

The site also includes a small archery range, with plans to expand it as funding becomes available. A five-stand trap range is expected to open in the spring for shotgun enthusiasts. Future phases of the project include construction of five skeet and trap ranges along with a clubhouse with a retail store, classrooms and offices. One 1,250-yard shooting range will be for the exclusive use of law enforcement, Monday through Friday, but will be open to the public on weekends.


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The complex will be staffed by military and civilian personnel. Profits from the range will be used to fund the Fort Carson FMWR program, which supports soldiers and their families. El Paso County has established a nonprofit organization called the Soldier's Friend Foundation to raise donations for the next two phases of the complex. For directions and hours of operation, call 719-896-6196 or go to: http://www.elpasoco.com/CMSC/Pages/default.aspx.

Seeking feedback. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is seeking public comment through Feb. 9 on a draft environmental assessment regarding Colorado Parks and Wildlife's proposed "Piceance State Wildlife Area Property Exchange."

CPW is proposing to exchange the 910-acre Square S State Wildlife Area unit of the Piceance Parcel with appurtenant water rights for Exxon Mobil Corporation's three land parcels, a total of 1,191 acres of land. Federal compliance is required, because the Piceance Parcel was acquired by CPW in 1956 with Wildlife Restoration grant funds from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal regulation requires that the USFWS approve or disapprove of any land disposal acquired with Wildlife Restoration funds.

The exchange would increase the amount of quality riparian habitat, big game habitat and winter grazing habitat, in addition to providing hunting access to adjacent Bureau of Land Management land in the White River drainage. Implementation of this exchange would also aid CPW in the management of public lands in the Piceance Basin and White River drainage where energy development is not expected in the foreseeable future.

A copy of the draft and details of the proposed exchange are available online at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/federalassistance/nepa/index.html. Those without Internet access may request copies by calling the Services' Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program at 303-236-4414. Comments should be sent to: Chief, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO 80225.

Scott Willoughby: 303-954-1993, swilloughby@denverpost.com