WHITE CITY — State wildlife managers Tuesday abruptly suspended their plans to build an archery park at the Denman Wildlife Area after an Oregon legislator asked them to change course and look at helping boost other existing ranges.
Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, asked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to cancel its scheduled public meeting Monday at the wildlife area to present its plans to the public and the agency complied, said Russ Stauff, the ODFW's Rogue Watershed manager who is spearheading the range effort.
Esquivel told the Mail Tribune that he would rather see the ODFW take what money it has set aside for the range and improve a public range already at the Jackson County Sports Park.
"I think the theory's fine," Esquivel said Tuesday. "I just don't see the reason to re-invent the wheel when there's already one with the spokes on."
Jackson County is home to at least two archery shops with indoor ranges and an outdoor range is outside of Eagle Point. Esquivel also questioned the need for a new facility.
The park was estimated to cost about $137,000, with some current ODFW funds as seed money to leverage grants and in-kind assistance to cover construction costs.
Stauff declined further comment.
The planned Denman archery park off East Gregory Road was designed to include separate covered, outdoor shooting areas for youth, bowhunters and archers who could shoot at targets at the Olympic distance of 90 meters.
The park was set to be free for use by the public, local shooting clubs, youth groups and tournament organizers. It would have been open during the wildlife area's normal hours of sunrise to sunset.
It was based on a design offered by the Archery Trade Association, which has seen a spike in archery interest after recent movies such as "The Hunger Games" and a good U.S. showing in the recent Olympics.
ODFW managers have been looking for ways to improve public access to shooting sports such as archery. The Denman range, as well as a similar one planned for the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area outside of Corvallis, were considered prototype ranges to serve as a blueprint for how municipalities and other state-owned wildlife areas can develop similar ranges.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at email@example.com.