EAGLE, Idaho — The City of Eagle plans to conduct a noise study for its proposed 80-acre target shooting range in the city's foothills beginning Friday, June 10.
A ‘work group’ was tasked with developing the ‘Eagle Foothills Recreation Plan.’ Passed by the city council last summer, the plan lays out use and management of BLM land north of beacon light road, and some land around it, within city limits. Creating a designated, safe area for shooting surfaced as the top priority in the plan.
The group pinpointed two potential spots for a shooting range, one on BLM land, and the other on private property East of Willow Creek Road. They ultimately landed on the latter.
The area will be closed to the public from June 10 to June 13. The City of Eagle said the noise study includes an "ambient survey" of the environment, as well as a live-fire exercise, depending on the weather.
Trails in the area will also be closed to the public as a safety precaution. A map of trail closures from the City of Eagle is shown below:
The roughly 80-acre site sits about 3.5 miles north of Beacon Light on Willow Creek, which is Eagle Road. The owners of the Spring Valley development, going in just west of the area, own this plot of land too, and they plan to donate it to the city for the shooting park.
In an open house in early March, Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce agreed with Spring Valley's owners, who want to stop undesignated shooting on BLM land next to the development.
“For us, it's let's get ahead of the game, create a place, make sure we have a spot where it happens and it's not the wild west,” Mayor Pierce said during the open house.
The park would include archery courses, a pistol and rifle range, a shotgun range, and a separate range for law enforcement. A fence would go up around the park to control access.
Many feel the City of Eagle will not listen to them, including people who live right next to the proposed site, along with people who use the land every day.
Tami Bromley has ridden her horse in the area for decades, where access to trails, open space and tranquility is unparalleled.
“We're out in what equestrians call little gulch, it's one of our very favorite places to come ride,” Bromley said. “This is a place that I come to, to center my soul. This is more holy and more spiritual than a church, and I think that's true for most of these people out here.”
Not just for equestrians, but for runners, hikers, dog walkers, and anyone else who lives in the area.
“You can just sit out back and enjoy the sunshine, the sights, the people, the equestrians,” said Michael Faraino, a local homeowner.
While dozens of people showed up to meetings this spring in opposition of the park, several others supported a controlled, convenient place to shoot.
"I applaud the city for what they're doing, I think it's a good idea,” one attendee of the open house said.
"I've had rounds whiz past my ear. I really appreciate the city of Eagle creating a safe space for all of us to shoot. A lot more convenient than other places we have,” another attendee said.
Homeowners, like Michael Faraino, would have to deal with the public shooting range half a mile down the road.
“This will not stop shooting on BLM land, that many in the equestrian community are still very concerned about after close calls,” Faraino said. “This is not an appropriate location for any kind of gun facility, and I'm a big-time shooter!”
The problem is, they are not Eagle residents, they live in unincorporated Ada County.
“We're being shut out of the entire process, and make no mistake about it, that is deliberate,” Faraino said. “But hey, ‘sorry, you're not in the city of Eagle, you don't have a voice. You don't have a say.’”
Eagle City Council decided to move forward with noise and transportation studies for the area. In late April, they voted to spend close to $20,000 to do the noise study, which will begin Friday.
“If they come back and it’s a bunch of junk then we deal with it then, but at least we have facts on info instead of blindly making decisions,” an Eagle City Council Member said.
As for who foots the bill for the shooting sports park, Mayor Pierce expects foundations, private donations and user fees to pay for it. He said he wants to have that piece ironed out soon, so they can break ground by fall.
The city sent out a survey on the matter, about 60% of residents who answered supported the idea of a controlled, convenient place to shoot, while the other 40% opposed it. A city spokesperson said the public part of the range will cost around $2.2 million.
Public records show Mayor Pierce and other staff met with the JK Albertsons Foundation about potentially funding the project.
The city is looking to partner with law enforcement agencies for the law enforcement range and then they’ll figure out the cost and funding for that part. Along with locking in the money, the city's next steps include environmental and cultural surveys on the site, a final design and contracting with a company to build the ranges.
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