BY THOMAS P. TURNER
Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club
The Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club (LASC) provides a safe and educational shooting sports facility and is an important recreational amenity for thousands of residents in Los Alamos County and throughout the surrounding region.
LASC provides a valuable training resource for numerous local and regional entities, including the Los Alamos and Española police departments. Local and regional youth have attended National Junior Olympic competitions and other noteworthy national and regional competitions after honing their skills at the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club archery and shotgun ranges. Local Scouts have used the range for their Eagle projects. The club has hosted competitions that have drawn competitors from across the United States, and raised funds for charitable causes such as the Los Alamos Public Safety Association Scholarship fund.
Principals from Los Alamos County and the U.S. Department of Energy who participated in the original negotiations for the transfer of surplus land from DOE to Los Alamos County in the late 1990s and early 2000s recognized the value that the Sportsmen’s Club provides to our community, while acknowledging that the costs associated with environmental characterization and remediation of the area were likely insurmountable at the time and in the foreseeable future. Consequently, those entities, with the concurrence of members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation at the time, provided for continuing club activities as a practical matter on the 109 acres occupied by the club. This use has continued under a licensing agreement with DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration since the early 2000s. The current clubhouse dates back to 1964, even before the club’s formal licensing agreements. Clearly, Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club has a rich and beneficial history in our community.
With a new lease as it is being crafted, DOE wants to make LASC liable for at least part of remediation for environmental contamination, which dates back to the Manhattan Project. The DOE is setting a dangerous precedent by transferring waste clean-up responsibilities for DOE waste onto third parties. By trying to establish such a precedent, the DOE is threatening not only the livelihood and longevity of LASC, but potentially other public and private entities who live in proximity to DOE facilities.
The club currently is negotiating with the DOE/NNSA on a lease arrangement that will allow club activities to continue into the future as envisioned by the original intent of DOE Land-Transfer negotiations. LASC remains hopeful and confident that current DOE/NNSA principals will recognize, just as their predecessors did, that the club is an asset to our community and the region, and that responsibility for cleanup rests solely with DOE and not third parties.
As club president, I am authorized by the LASC Board to be the sole spokesperson on this matter, and I intend to continue to provide updates when new information becomes available.