SIU-Carbondale and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will team up to conduct strategic planning studies of two IDNR sites in southwestern Illinois.
The sites are the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta and Pyramid State Park in Perry County.
The studies are the brainchild of State Senator Paul Schimpf. The Waterloo republican says the studies will identify the mission, infrastructure needs and promotional opportunities for each site.
"The reason I think you need to do studies like this is I believe you cannot reach your potential if you're just in react mode. You need to be thinking about, 'OK, where do we want to be ten years from now?'"
SIU-C's economic and regional development director Kyle Harfst will lead the university's portion of the two separate studies. He says meetings with stakeholders will begin in early summer with public comment as well.
"This is a transparent activity. So, we want to the public to provide input. We would anticipate as we go through the process, we will have public informational meetings to have the public weigh in as well in what's the best use of this great asset."
Sparta Mayor Jason Schlimme says during the shooting complex's Grand American in August, his town takes in three to four million dollars in revenue. He says the money is paying a significant part of a 16-million dollar sewer improvement project required by the state.
"Those revenues are generated out here of off water and sewer bills for the facility. Our hotel-motel tax, that's money we use for our Little League programs. I mean that money is just used all around."
Glenn Simpson is the shooting coach at Sparta High School. He says the shooting complex needs to be utilized more to take advantage of the sport's popularity among young people.
"April 28, we had a match at Rend Lake with our Southern Illinois Youth Shooting Sports Association. We had 215 kids pre-squatted. Now, that's not counting the ones that come in after the pre-squatting and register."
The other site, Pyramid State Park, is the largest state park in Illinois, but Senator Schimpf says it's unknown to many in the region.
Schimpf, SIU-C Chancellor Carlo Montemagno and IDNR director Wayne Rosenthal signed a Memorandum of Understanding Monday at the shooting complex.