The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund shooting range access improvement projects across the state.
A $14,300 grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund recently awarded to the department for this effort will be part of the non-federal match of $250,000 to bring the total monies for range improvements to $1 million.
The department will be awarding small grants to municipalities and private non-profits to establish new ranges and facilities, and enhance existing ones through a competitive grant application process that will be developed this winter.
“With these improvements, we can enhance publicly accessible places for hunters, shooters and archers to practice and improve their skills while learning safe and responsible hunting and shooting methods,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.
“Access to safe, user-friendly ranges has been identified nationally as a major factor in recruiting and retaining hunters,” said Chandler Woodcock, IFW Commissioner. “We are very pleased the department could move ahead with this project. This is a fantastic opportunity to assist local shooting range organizations on a host of projects.”
Eligible projects may include: improving on environmental conditions at or near ranges, increasing access for hunters, archers and shooters who are disabled, improving hunter education facilities, and enhancing the safety and the physical capacity of ranges.
As a condition of participation in the grant program, range organizations will be required to provide public access at their facilities during agreed upon times or events at little or no cost. Grant recipients will also be required to match the grant award amount by providing at least 25 percent of the improvement costs which can include in-kind contributions.
The department is currently assembling a shooting range inventory that will be available online and members of the public will be able to search the database to find information on specific shooting ranges.
When the grant application package is ready, the department will send out a press release and post an announcement on its web site at www.mefishwildlife.com on how to obtain the application. The application package will explain who is eligible, how to apply, grant requirements and limitations, rules for completing grant projects, what kind of projects are eligible, how grant applications will be scored, and an example of a grant scoring sheet.
Additionally, the federal grant will help fund the hiring of part time, contractual shooting range access improvement grant coordinator, which will be advertised within the month. Interested parties should contact Mike Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Judy Camuso at email@example.com for details.
Logo courtesy Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife