S.F.’s shooting range headed for extinction?

A local wildlife-care group has launched a bid to take over public land occupied by San Francisco’s only public shooting range, where it hopes to build a nature center and wildlife hospital.

The San Francisco Rescued Orphan Mammal Program has seized on a long-running San Francisco Public Utilities Commission plan to overhaul public recreational uses of the land around Lake Merced that could see the Pacific Rod & Gun Club banished from its lakefront home.

The group filed a proposal with the SFPUC to build a nature center with a wildlife hospital on the gun club’s 14-acre site, and it sent flyers and e-mails in recent weeks asking for City residents’ support, according to its founder, Jamie Ray. The group has yet to raise any money for the $2 million project, she said.

The SFPUC recently ranked current and potential recreational activities around Lake Merced for suitability and popularity, such as fishing, boating, hiking and environmental education. A nature center ranked best of 31 proposed activities, while shooting ranked second-worst, better only than large-vehicle training.

The gun club rents land on John Muir Drive from The City for $4,250 a month, according to SFPUC project manager David Behar. He said the club’s one-year lease expired in 1934. Of the clubs 318 members, 169 live in San Francisco, according to Behar.

Club president Fred Tautenhahn pledged to fight to stay open. “After all,” he said, “we’ve been there 75 years.”

If the gun club is asked to leave, gunfire will still remain; next to the gun club is a police shooting range at which weapons are fired from 8 a.m. into the evening, according to police spokesman Sgt. Wilfred Williams.

The SFPUC will discuss the range of land use and recreation scenarios for Lake Merced tonight at 6 p.m. at a public meeting at the Sunset Recreation Center.

jupton@examiner.com

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