Hunter education center slated for Montana Creek

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2001

Hunters will have a new education facility with an indoor shooting range by fall of next year, the developers said.

The Juneau Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the 80,000-square-foot facility this week.

The $1.5 million building, next to the Juneau Gun Club on Montana Creek Road, will be funded by the state Department of Fish and Game and designed by Jensen Yorba Lott, an architectural firm in Juneau.

The facility will have classroom space for up to 20 students and a shooting range that can handle handgun fire as well as gunfire from .22-caliber rifles, said architect Tony Yorba. The building should be finished by fall 2002, he said.

Bruce Dinneford, management coordinator for the state Division of Wildlife Conservation, said it is sponsoring the facility and will use funds generated through a state grant, revenues from excise taxes on guns and ammunition, and existing hunting-related fees.

Dinneford said firearm safety programs are available in Juneau, but this will be the only facility that contains both a classroom to learn the rules of hunting and a shooting range for practical application.

"Hopefully, this will reduce the chance of hunting-related accidents," he said. "And it will instill in young shooters that a firearm is not a toy and something to be treated with respect. Even something like a BB gun should be treated as something potentially harmful."

Dinneford said the program will go beyond most firearm education classes because it will teach not only firearm safety but also hunting regulations, ethics and management.

"There is a big difference between learning gun safety and learning to hunt safely," he said. "We want to teach people how to be a good hunting neighbor."

The site is near an active gravel pit, which is zoned for residential use and is a potential site for homes, city Planner Greg Chaney said in a report to the Planning Commission.

To ensure the public's health and safety, plans for the shooting range include an industrial fan and filtering exhaust system, Chaney said. If the filtering systems are maintained, hazardous materials such as lead released by the gunfire will not contaminate the atmosphere, he said.

He also said the range will be enclosed in fortified concrete to reduce noise from gunfire and to prevent stray bullets from getting out of the building.

As part of the agreement for a conditional use permit, developers also must preserve many of the trees in the area, which act as a natural buffer between the range and the site where future homes could be built.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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