DEC Grants Available to Improve Public Access to Non-Profit And Municipal Shooting Ranges Across The State

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The Shooting Range Small Grants Program Application Period is Now Open Through May 15.

New York, NY - April 17, 2014 - The application period for the 2014 Shooting Range Small Grants Program is now open, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner (DEC) Joe Martens today announced. In its second year under Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, the grants are part of an effort to improve operations of shooting ranges. The Shooting Range Small Grants Program is managed in partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County and works to support recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women across the state and to promote safe and responsible use of firearms.
 
Funding for the program is derived from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. The source of federal funds is the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition. These funds are made available to state fish and wildlife agencies to conduct sportsman education activities. This is a matching grant program for eligible non-profit and municipal shooting ranges across the state. Each successful applicant will be responsible for providing a match of at least 25 percent of the total project cost. During 2013, DEC awarded grants to 13 shooting ranges to revitalize and improve operations and public access, and to promote the responsible use of firearms.
 
"Governor Cuomo supports these grants to ensure the hunting communities have access to ranges to improve and practice their shooting skills and proficiency for safe and ethical hunting," Commissioner Martens said. "With publicly accessible shooting ranges in high demand, the Shooting Range Grants Program is proving to be a popular supportive program. Shooting ranges provide important benefits to the hunting, recreational shooting and competitive shooting communities."
 
Ranges are used for developing firearms and archery familiarity and to promote the careful use of firearms and archery equipment. Competitive shooting and active shooting develop skills beneficial to hunters and the firearm and archery community while cultivating sportsmanship and participation in a healthy, challenging environment.
 
Municipalities are urged to apply for this grant, particularly for archery range-related projects. Shooting ranges can be beneficial to a community by providing a safe and convenient place for residents to enjoy the shooting sports.
 
DEC and the Cornell Cooperative Extension program of Saratoga County have worked closely with stakeholders to gather ideas and suggestions for this program. To be eligible to apply, applicants must demonstrate five years of successful range operation and be willing to provide a publicly-accessible place for hunters, shooters and archers to practice and improve their skills.
 
Depending on available funds and number of applications received, projects will be selected annually through a competitive grant process, with allocations ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. To learn more about the goals and eligible projects within the program and to obtain the Program Guidelines and Application Packet, visit the Shooting Range Small Grants Program page on DEC's website. The 2014 application period is now open until May 15, 2014.
 
Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.
 
In support of this initiative, this year's budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone largely untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state's fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.
 
This year's budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.
 
For questions or comments regarding the program, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension's Melissa Bailey at mrb323@cornell.edu or call 315-793-2515.
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