A new proposed plan aims to control gunfire on increasingly busy public lands across Colorado's Front Range.
"The Integrated Management of Target Shooting," as the U.S. Forest Service titles the 28-page document, outlines strategies within Pike National Forest, where land managers and hikers, bikers and off-roaders have long reported disturbing sights and sounds: piles of bullets and shots fired all too close.
In its proposal, the Forest Service acknowledges the legality of shooting in undesignated places within national forests and grasslands. But federal rules are being broken when it comes to leaving trash, using appropriate targets rather than road signs and trees, and "shoot(ing) in a safe manner," the plan reads.
"As a result," it continues, "serious resource damage, regular wildfires, and injuries and even occasionally fatalities occur."
Following a listening tour last year and collaboration with enthusiasts and officials from El Paso, Teller, Douglas and Jefferson counties among others, the Forest Service has developed what it's calling "a conditions-based, adaptive framework."
That framework lays out reasons for opening and closing shooting ranges. The proposal calls for developing at least one in each of the Pikes Peak, South Platte and South Park ranger districts.
Seven potential sites are identified for target shooting in Pike National Forest, including three where use is deemed "high." One is the area known as Turkey Tracks north of Woodland Park. The others are off Jefferson County Road 126 and near Harris Park in Park County.
Areas would be banned "based on potential risks to public safety, wildfire, impacts to adjacent private property, resource damage, user conflicts or enforcement access." Additional closure criteria is listed, including within the Manitou Experimental Forest or any designated research or scenic area; along a road; a mile from a town or city boundary; a half-mile from any home or subdivision; and a quarter-mile from any trailhead, campsite or body of water.
Educational tools, increased patrol and fenced-off parking areas are listed among enforcement possibilities.
The Forest Service is accepting comment on the plan through Feb. 22. Those can be submitted where documents can also be found: https://bit.ly/3hS9M4Q