Based on questions I've been asked in the past couple of months, I would venture to say that many recreational shooters are watching the horizon at the north end of the Las Vegas Valley.
Perhaps you are one of the many keeping an eye out for dust that would indicate excavation work has begun on the Clark County Shooting Park. That level of interest is a good thing, and I hope it continues as work at the site progresses.
If you're one of us dust watchers, don't get discouraged. The wheels of government sometimes can grind slowly along a track that is often complex, especially when multiple agencies are involved. Such is the case with the shooting park.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it's getting brighter all the time as obstacles are moved out of the way, literally and figuratively.
One such obstacle was a huge power pole owned by Nevada Power. The pole prevented the extension of Decatur Boulevard, an improvement needed to create access to the range.
Shooting park manager Don Turner wrote in a bulletin that "Nevada Power and (Clark County) Public Works engineers feared that reducing the grade would leave the pole high on the hill without any subsurface to maintain its stability."
That, of course, would be a safety issue. Finding an alternative location where the pole could be moved sounded easy enough, but, as Turner noted, this was "a significant project and one that required cutting a lot of red tape."
Funding is always an issue when it comes to a project such as the shooting park and sometimes can stall progress. But recently the Clark County Commission approved park funding and expenditures for 2007. That included hiring an office manager and a marketing specialist and locating a temporary office somewhere near the park site.
Though the land for the shooting park was deeded to Clark County from the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency still required certain permits before actual construction could begin.
During the past year, some recreational shooters have expressed concern that the BLM might drag its feet for issuing the necessary permits. The jury is still out on that one, but at this point the agency has issued the necessary permits and cleared the way for the construction phase of the project. Once the final construction plans have been approved by the various permitting offices, the entire package will be put out to bid.
Turner hopes to see dust flying at the site this winter. The first phase will include areas for firearms safety training, recreational target shooting and the shotgun sports. When completed, the shooting park will be the country's largest public recreational shooting range.
If you are looking for a place to sight in your hunting rifles or practice your shotgun shooting skills, two privately operated outdoor facilities are available. One is the Desert Sportsmen Rifle & Pistol Club on West Charleston, and the other is the Boulder City Rifle & Pistol Club, located southeast of that community.
For trap, skeet or sporting clays, try the Las Vegas Gun Club near Floyd Lamb State Park.
• WILDLIFE BANQUET -- The Nevada Wildlife Federation will host its annual awards banquet at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Durango Hills Golf Club banquet room.
The program includes guest speaker Elsie Sellars, who will discuss the Las Vegas Wetlands Park.
Tickets are $17 if purchased in advance and $27 at the door. For reservations, call 438-2485 or 271-5573.
Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife and an award-winning freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.