The following is a press release from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department:
Waterbury,Vt. – A new grant program dedicated to Vermont’s shooting ranges may mean that hunters and recreational shooters will soon have more access to safe places to shoot.
Shooting clubs, sportsmen’s groups and government agencies involved in operation, improvement or maintenance of shooting ranges, including archery ranges, have until 4:30 p.m. on March 15, 2010 to submit applications for grants from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.
The department recently developed a Shooting Range Improvement Grant Program designed to encourage the improvement of shooting ranges and to enhance their safety and operation. The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assisted in development of the program.
Grant money can be used for lead mitigation. This could include funding for recycling the accumulated lead in berms, reducing range floor surface drainage, or even liming range property.
Other examples of projects that could be eligible for funds include shooting range re-development, construction of noise abatement structures and safety berms, installation of shooting pads and stations, and construction or improvement of access roads and parking lots.
“This program could be a real help to fish and game clubs looking to improve their facilities,” said Commissioner Wayne Laroche, “while hunters and shooters may have more places to sight in their rifles and practice their shooting skills. Increased range opportunities will encourage hunters to become more proficient with firearms and thus promote safe and responsible gun handling and shooting proficiency.”
Fish and Wildlife anticipates providing $75,000 in federal funds for the program this year and $350,000 over the next five years.
Federal rules associated with this funding require that a range receiving one of these grants will be expected to provide at least 20 hours of public use per week and be open to use by hunter education class students. Vermont nonprofit organizations and municipalities as well as private clubs are eligible.
The first phase of this new project will be looking for proposals that could result in work being started on Vermont shooting ranges on July 1, 2010.
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will provide grant funds annually, as they become available. The funds are derived from federal excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment and are apportioned to the states through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program. This is a 75 percent reimbursement grant program and requires a 25 percent nonfederal match from the grant recipient. This can come through “in-kind” match, such as volunteer labor and donated equipment or cash.
During the initial year of this program, the deadline for application submittal is March 15, 2010. For further information or to download an application packet, visit the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website at www.vtfishandwildlife.com. Click on “Hunting and Trapping,” and then on “Shooting Ranges in Vermont.” Or, contact Chris Saunders, Hunter Education Coordinator at 802-241-3722.