Proposed gun range west of Payson worries homeowners

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

PAYSON — Dozens of people who live near the foothills west of Payson are worried about a new gun range that's being planned for the area behind their homes.

The gun range is being planned for an unincorporated area called West Mountain on land currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management. National nonprofit the CMP, Civilian Marksmanship Program, is in the process of trying to buy the land from the BLM. CMP promotes firearm safety through marksmanship and competitions and is looking to expand west.

"Shooting ranges are awesome, but to have a shooting range 300 feet from your back door isn't so awesome," West Mountain resident Aaron Westgate said.

CMP tells KSL-TV the site will be "a beautiful, state-of-the-art range and open to the public with all modern range safety measures and systems in place."

But the site is giving residents heartburn.

"Imagine a child studying with the gunshots going off 10 hours a day, six days a week. It will feel like they're in a war zone," resident Julianna Westgate said.

The Westgates, along with dozens of neighbors, worry about losing access to the land that's currently used for recreation, shooting and other public enjoyment.

"This whole area out here is used right now for ATVs, dirt bikes, and those kinds of activities – camping and hiking," resident Norm Avery said.

They're also worried about the noise, safety, the traffic, and possible environmental impacts like lead contamination.

The neighbors say they aren't opposed to a gun range, they just don't want it in this location.

"There are some better locations that are not right behind established neighborhoods," Julianna Westgate said.

Their biggest concern is the sheer size of the proposed range, which will be over 500 acres.

"What they're proposing for the size of this thing is like five times the size of Disneyland Park," Aaron Westgate said.

CMP's chief commercial officer said this location was selected because it's centrally located.

"There has been strong local and state support for this initiative," Greg Raines, with CMP, said in an email to KSL-TV.

Raines said no shooting would happen in the early morning or late at night, and they plan to plant trees and berms to help mitigate noise.

"We believe the CMP range will add a measure of safety over the current conditions and add to the ability of residents to enjoy the (recreation) area," Raines wrote.

He said firing lines would be at maximum distances from residential areas, and the trees and berms would mitigate "much of the sound, but not all."

"The park will be open four to five days a week with shooting between the hours of 11-5 (on) weekdays and 9-5 on weekends. No shooting at night or in the early morning," Raines said.

Payson city officials are supporting the site, which residents also have concerns about. They believe that at some point, the city will try to annex the land into Payson.

Payson Mayor Bill Wright said annexation would only include the land of the proposed site.

"I believe that's what we would end up doing. Again, that's a conversation that we're going to explore," he said.

Wright also acknowledged the economic benefit of having the range at that location but said that it wasn't the only controlling factor.

"Safety is a very, very big factor in what is going on right now. (The BLM land is) uncontrolled, and many people are hesitant to go out there to do the shooting because it is uncontrolled. There have been situations where people have taken targets out there that explode, and there have been links between that and West Mountain catching fire," he said.

Wright believes the gun range will help.

"It just is a really unsightly sight out there. And so we feel that that as we go through that process, that it will be an improvement, not a detraction to the area," he said.

The residents also expressed frustration that they only learned about the project through a postcard recently sent to their houses. They argue the city has been working on the site for years.

"We have been working together (with CMP), there's no doubt about that," said Wright. "But we've talked about it in open council meetings the last couple — three years. We're not hiding anything. We're just in the investigatory stage right now."

"it's just getting to that point where it makes sense to engage the citizens, hear their concerns, and absolutely we've, we want to work well with them. We've reached out to them," Wright said.

Despite the concerns, CMP said in an email that it's not exploring any other sites for the gun range.

"But it's not a done deal," Wright said.

The BLM is currently taking public comments through Friday about the proposal.

Most recent Utah County stories

Related topics

BusinessUtahOutdoorsUtah County
Lindsay Aerts
Lindsay is a reporter for KSL-TV who specializes in political news. She attended Utah State University and got a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She previously reported for KSL NewsRadio.


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast