Hays County Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford, left, speaks with Hays County Shooting Sports Task Force (HCSSTF) Chair Stephen Marlow, center, and HCSSTF Vice Chair J.B. Kolodzey, right.
By SEAN BATURA
A local non-profit group went before the Hays County Commissioners Court Tuesday to propose a shooting sports complex on 350 acres of future conservation easement land in Buda.
The county, in partnership with the Hill Country Conservancy and the City of Austin, agreed last month to collectively pay the Dahlstrom Family $9.9 million for a conservation easement on the family’s 2,275-ranch, which is located over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone near the junction of FM 1626 and RM 967.
The Dahlstroms have agreed to reserve 350 acres of the ranch for public use. The precise nature of the public use, and the terms of the easement itself, are under negotiation.
“I’m probably the one who first brought up Dahlstrom (Ranch) as a potential site (for the shooting sports complex),” said Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) to members of the Hays County Shooting Sports Task Force during Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting.
“I’ve had some of those conversations with (the Dahlstroms),” Barton continued. “I keep trying to encourage the Dahlstroms to talk to you guys, and really, y’all should talk to the Dahlstroms. I think it’s going to be something that’s got to work for both (parties). I think it’s possible. I think it’s turning out to be kind of difficult because of their vision for what they want to do. They’re concerned about how much acreage they’ve got and (about) water quality issues, (all of which) I think can be overcome.”
The Dahlstrom family could not be immediately reached for comment. Barton said the family is worried that noise from multiple shooting ranges on the future public access portion of the ranch may drive off other users, such as hikers and bird watchers.
Hays County Shooting Sports Task Force Vice Chair J.B. Kolodzey said his group, the Texas Shooting Sports Complex nonprofit organization (TXSSC), could accommodate hikers and cyclists. Kolodzey added that wildlife at Dahlstrom Ranch is already acclimatized to the sound of gunshots. Kolodzey said he already participates in competitive shooting at Dahlstrom Ranch on Thursdays.
“We’ve been shooting out there,” Kolodzey said at Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting. “Not just me — there’s a whole lot of other people in this community that do. And (Jack Dahlstrom) also has some corporate shoots out there … If it wasn’t for him, the Boy Scouts, the 4H (members) — that’s where they go to shoot. He’s a very kind man to let them … and he really wants to cater to kids. He loves it when the kids come out there and shoot.”
Hays County Shooting Sports Task Force Chair Stephen Marlow said the complex must comprise at least 350 acres in order to safely accommodate the multitude of shooting sports that are proposed to take place there.
“We want it to be a park,” Kolodzey said. “Because we don’t want just shooting. We want the Boy Scouts to come out and be able to camp. Plus, they can qualify (for) their merit badges while they’re there.”
One of the thornier issues currently being negotiated by the Dahlstrom Ranch Public Access Plan Steering Committee is whether camping will be allowed on the 350-acre future public access portion of the ranch.
“We would like to partner up with y’all on that 350 acres, in being able to open it up to the public, not just as a shooting range, but we envision soccer, baseball, football fields out there as well,” Kolodzey said to commissioners. “We would be able to help pay for it. Y’all are not going to have to come up with the money. We need a new courthouse, people. Where are you going to find the money for that? We’re trying to bring you something that is going to be revenue-neutral for the county, as well as produce revenue for the county.”Email | Print