Cameo Partnerships and Process History
At the turn of the century Cameo was the location of a coal-fired power plant and recently closed coal mine. So how did we go from there to be a nationally acclaimed sport shooting and education complex.
One of the fist steps was that Xcel Energy and Snowcap Coal Co., owners of the power plant decided to decommission the plant. They were in a program to build newer, natural gas fired power plants along with an aggressive increase in wind and solar energies. The plant closing was important to Palisade in that it had created local jobs and was a big user of the Towns water. It represented a 13% loss in revenue for the Town’s water fund.
As the process of decommissioning, removal and cleanup was underway, the Palisade town Board and especially the Mayor, Roger Granat started wondering if there might be some alternative use for the property. Staff was asked to contact the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division (CPW) about a grant for shooting Ranges in that historically locals had been up in those canyons shooting.
Earlier in time the Director of CPW had asked their staff to find a place for a major shooting complex. There was an attempt to put the complex on the front range just west of Denver. Those efforts failed and CPW was still looking for a better site. When contacted by Palisade, CPW staff asked if Palisade would be interested in a larger project than a simple shooting range. After discussions with the Town Trustees it was determined that the larger venue would represent and opportunity for economic development and not just a sport shooting bench and targets. Town staff was directed at supporting efforts to move a larger project forward.
The Town of Palisade and Colorado Parks and Wildlife created a formal partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by each body. That MOU stated that the goal was the creation of a National Sport Shooting and Education Complex at Cameo.
At the same time, as Xcel Energy and Snowcap Coal had their land up for sale, there was potential other interest in the site regionally. Some thoughts were a large tire recycling facility and a large solar array project. Grand Junction Economic Partnership was asked to gather interested parties and evaluate both interest and ability to perform. After much evaluation it was decided that the CPW project had the best potential for reclamation of the now abandoned industrial site and would help economic recovery in Mesa County.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division needed authority to do the project and as such found sponsors for a bill proposed to the State Legislature. The Bill sponsors were Representatives Duran and Coram joined by McLachlan, Fischer, Hamner, Hullinghorst, Lebsock, Mitch Bush, Pabon, Rankin, Rosenthal, Schafer Scott, Wright, Becker and Williams. Senators carrying the Bill were John and Roberts joined by Crowder, Herpin, King, Nicholson, Rivera, Schwartz and Tochtrop. Meanwhile, CPW and the Town had been gathering support of the project. This support was regional and included;
- AGNC – Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado
- (5 counties and associated Towns and Cities)
- Palisade Town Board
- Palisade Tourism Board
- Palisade Chamber of Commerce
- Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce
- City of Grand Junction
- City of Fruita
- Colorado Mesa University
- Grand Junction Economic Partnership
- Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau
- Grand Junction Work Force Center
- Club 20
- Colorado Parks and Wildlife
- Colorado Department of Natural Resources
- Governor Hickenlooper
- Colorado Mule Deer Association
- Ducks Unlimited
- Friends of the Mustang
- Mesa County Board of Commissioners
- High Country Orchards
- Colorado Youth Outdoors
- Colorado Bow Hunters Association
- Colorado Traditional Archers Society
- 5 percent of survey respondents
- Xcel Energy
- Snowcap Coal
There was also an on-line survey which showed tremendous community support.
Palisade’s Mayor, Roger Granat and Town Administrator, Richard Sales took part in the testimony to the legislative bodies who eventually approval HB 14-1275 . We were pleased Governor Hickenlooper came to Grand Junction to sign the bill.
That authorization triggered several parallel efforts;
CPW started a series of Environmental Reviews to assure the site was clean and available for the project.
We, the partners, needed to convince Xcel Energy and Snowcap Coal to sell the property. Efforts were made by both the Town and CPW to get to that point and establish a price.
The money for purchase was also a goal to be met. The Town Board agreed to support an economic development grant request through the Department of Local Affairs since this was reclamation of a Coal mine and coal-fired power plant. The request was for $2,000,000 and was granted by the DOLA Board after presentations by the Town and support from CPW and Governor Hickenlooper.
After Addressing several concerns, details and issues with in State agencies such as the State Health Department, Mined land reclamation and the Attorney Generals Office, the land was finally purchased by the Town with the DOLA grant funds.
Then it was time to lease the land back to CPW as agreed, for the creation of the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex. The lease and lease payments were reviewed and debated through several State agencies as well as the Town of Palisade Trustees. After numerous revisions the partners were able to meet and agree on the lease language.
Design of the facilities was also underway by CPW. They hired a nationally known range expert to outline design criteria and potential layouts. They also had a three-day design charette, inviting all the local archery and firearm shooting clubs in the region to have input in the design. The design was formed in great part through the hiring of the new facility director. After advertising, review and interviews, Walt Proulx was selected as Director. Walt’s extensive background in competitive shooting sports allowed him to mold the design into the world-class facility it is today.
The Town of Palisade used remaining grant funds to extend necessary utilities to the site as allowed in the grant. CPW took over the fiscal responsibilities for construction of the facility. They then bid and contracted Phase 1-Am, which is now completed and operational being constructed by Williams Construction Company.
Additional phases are designed, budgeted and underway now. Funding for the entire project is still being sought and we are hoping to attract some sport shooting industry dollars to aid in major portions of the facility yet to come.
The first major shooting competition brought contestants from 19 different states in the USA, showing the draw potential for the facility to attract national attention and world-wide visitors to the Palisade and Mesa County region.
The facility has already received acclaim and will hold both the United States as well as the world competitive IDPA shooting competitions in the following years.
The Town of Palisade retained a portion of the Xcel Energy site and has worked with Oak Leaf Energy to put in a significant solar array which will support needs in Palisade, Grand Junction and Mesa County.
Another portion of this document lists the meetings and key steps in getting this work to where it is today.