The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is backing Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador’s move to transfer 31 acres of its land in Idaho County to the county for a gun range. “We’re supportive of the effort,” said Suzanne Endsley, public affairs officer for the BLM’s Coeur d’Alene and Spokane districts. “There is no designated range in that area, and people are using this location anyway. From an environmental standpoint, it would be nice if it was managed a little bit better. We just don’t have the resources to go there on a weekly basis and pick up all the shells, and there is interest in the county to do a really bang-up management job.”
Endsley said the BLM has been working with the county since 2010 on the issue, initially trying to arrange a low-cost “recreation and public purpose lease” from the BLM to the county for the land. But that’s been complicated by the site’s former use for a long-ago trash dump and the detritus of its longtime use for shooting, which moved the property out of the category of lands BLM can lease.
The site, about 10 miles north of the Time Zone Bridge at Riggins off Highway 95 on a hillside with a bench, is ideal for shooting, Endsley said. “It’s away from the beaten path … it’s not endangering anyone.” Asked if any stray bullets could reach Highway 95, she said, “Because of the topography and location, the chances of that would be probably slim to none.”
Labrador began working with the county and the agency on the issue in 2011, Endsley said. “The bureau is not in the business of developing gun ranges, and that’s the use that is kind of happening there. That’s why the county said, ‘Hey, if we can basically lease this parcel of land from you, we will put up a gun range and we will manage it.’”
She said, “Sometimes it just takes us a long time to work through things, and I think some of the patience expired with the county. And I know that they approached the congressman and he has kind of spearheaded this.”