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Open house and public hearing set for shooting range in Columbia County

PORTAGE, Wis. – The public is invited to an open house and
public hearing on two draft documents that are part of the development of a new public shooting range on the Mud Lake Wildlife Area in the Town
of Lowville, February 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Columbia County Law Enforcement Center, 711 East Cook Street, Portage.

Both documents are available for review by visiting dnr.wi.gov, and entering the search words, “Columbia County Shooting Range Proposal.” Online comments will be accepted through February 27.

The open house is scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. Department of Natural Resources staff will be on hand to answer questions on the proposed amendment to the Columbia County Planning Group Master Plan and the Environmental Impact statement for the project.

At 7 p.m. a formal hearing on the EIS will begin.

“This is the second scheduled opportunity to provide comment before these documents are presented to the Natural Resources Board for approval at its April 8 meeting in Madison,” said Eric Lobner, a DNR wildlife supervisor for the area. “At that time the board will also take additional public comments before acting on the documents.”

Based on comments received at the first public listening session held for these documents on December 17, the layout of the range has been updated to include perimeter fencing and a gate controlling access.

The Mud Lake location for the new public shooting range was selected by an ad hoc citizens committee after reviewing the pros and cons of seven possible state-owned sites within the county and public input ontwo of the sites the committee felt were the best candidates.

The proposed master plan amendment is needed to reclassify approximately 10 acres of the Mud Lake WA from “habitat management area” to “special management area.” The draft EIS evaluates potential impacts to natural resources in and adjacent to the site.

“Our master planning guidelines require us to craft an amendment that reclassifies the area designated for the range to a category that allows this kind of development,” said Lobner. “The EIS identifies potential environmental impacts from the project and the significance of
those impacts on habitat and area wildlife and nearby human populations.”

Following this open house and hearing and after the close of the online comment period the department will evaluate all comments and make modifications to the amendment and EIS if deemed necessary.

Persons wishing to speak to the board at their April 8 meeting must preregister with …

The board liaison


  • Eric Lobner, wildlife supervisor – (608) 275-3474
  • Bob Manwell, DNR communications – (608) 275-3317

READ MORE HERE: http://dnr.wi.gov/news/releases/article/?id=3463


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Is DNR doing enough to provide shooting opportunities for Wisconsin gun owners?

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More public access to private shooting ranges on way

DNR offers $279,757 in cost-share for private range projects

More high-quality shooting opportunities for the public are on the way thanks to a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources cost-share grant program for public and private shooting ranges.

The Shooting Range Grant Program is funded by the Wildlife Restoration Grant, also known as the Pittman-Robertson, which is fund supported by a 10 to 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition. For the first time in several years, this money has been made available to increase public access to quality, safe shooting opportunities throughout the state and improving both public and private shooting ranges. The DNR is awarding 12 shooting ranges full or partial funding for their projects ranging from $1,500 to $84,000. A total of nearly $280,000 will be spent on all the projects combined.

With an estimated 800,000 shooters and hunters in Wisconsin and recent strong growth in interest in shooting, providing access to safe, quality places to shoot is a priority for the DNR.

“The best place for someone to learn to shoot and to practice shooting is at a well-managed and maintained range,” Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator. “This grant program will help range operators and clubs provide high quality shooting opportunities around the state.”

The Shooting Range Grant Program can cost share up to 50 percent of approved renovation and development costs at private ranges and up to 75 percent at publicly owned ranges. Counties, cities, villages, townships, other governmental agencies or units, clubs or organizations, businesses or corporations and educational institutions are eligible for this program. The money is available for projects on privately owned ranges. Publicly owned range projects will be evaluated and funded on a case by case basis and will not affect the amount of money available for the grant program.

Eligible projects include but are not limited to: backstops, berms, target holders, baffles, gun racks, signs, field courses, benches, trap and skeet houses, platforms, sanitary facilities, classrooms, protective fencing, storage areas, shelters, parking, accessible pathways and support facilities. Project costs must be commensurate with benefit. Indoor range projects will be considered for funding at the department’s discretion.

Grant winners must comply with federal law and must have as the primary purpose to “teach the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to be a responsible hunter” or “construct, operate, or maintain firearm and archery ranges for public use.” Ranges must be open to the public (non-members) a minimum of 100 days per year. Range operators may charge a reasonable fee during the open hours.

At the completion of each project, all facilities at the range must be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and other federal requirements as appropriate.

Project ranking

Grant applications were scored on factors such as the proximity of the range to population centers and the amount of public shooting opportunity the range will provide. Other factors include the demonstration of need, amount of public support, cost, hunter education need, size of the project and number of different shooting opportunities at the facility.

“One of the most obvious needs is to increase opportunities for shooters and hunters close to home,” Warnke says. “Our few public ranges in southern Wisconsin are heavily used. In addition to looking to build new public ranges, we believe by partnering with private ranges, we can expand access to shooting and improve the facilities for everyone who uses them.”


  • Keith Warnke – (608) 576-5243
  • Joanne Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement public affairs manager – (608) 209-8147

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