Getting recreational shooting off of national forests

That’s at least part of the solution in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest’s proposal to amend its forest plan to provide “new rules to govern recreational shooting on national forest land.”  The effort is being managed by the Northern Front Range Recreational Sport Shooting Management Partnership, a collaborative effort started in 2013 that also includes Colorado Parks and Wildlife and four counties.

The purpose, from the partnership website:

to develop possible management strategies for this activity on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. This includes not only identifying areas of the Forests that may or may not be suitable for recreational sport shooting, but also identifying locations that would be conducive to building developed shooting ranges open to the public on public lands.

Proposed closures would not apply to lawful hunting activities on National Forest System lands. In addition, proposed closures would likely not take effect until developed shooting ranges were constructed in the vicinity.

The forest supervisor said the partnership’s approach to the safety concerns is to have the counties build shooting ranges to give people more controlled places to shoot, in exchange for closures of Forest Service land.   One of the alternatives being considered is 100% closure of national forest lands.  One member of the public opined that it must be a joke, but I think it’s fair to consider whether recreational shooting is compatible with other uses of a national forest.  At least outside of areas designated for that use (and maybe areas designated for that use should be under a special use permit like other exclusive uses).

Previously discussed on this blog here.

9 thoughts on “Getting recreational shooting off of national forests”

  1. “building developed shooting ranges open to the public on public lands.” Why not? There are developed ski areas, snowmobile trails, bike trails, etc. Perhaps a modest fee on shooting range permits could fund maintenance and enforcement.

  2. I can’t imagine the noise impacts would be anything but severe: hearing loss in animals, social and behavioral disruption, etc. etc.

    If it would be intolerable to put an open-air shooting range into a neighborhood, why is it any different to put one in an animal community?

  3. It seems like shooting has become a new pastime in our rural area. What could more fun than spending your Sunday shooting off your variety of firearms? Shooting ranges in our national forests might be a good idea, especially near population centers. It might save some roadside signs too.

  4. Recreational shooting on National Forests has become a safety issue for employees working in the woods and for the public. Designated shooting areas can be a big help. Other forests have worked out public-private solutions.

  5. This was also worked on prior to 2013 on the Front Range. We also went on field trips to really trashed sites on the Pike. In the past, everyone recognized the problem, but no one volunteered to start one of the private or county-run sites. Maybe this attention will break the logjam.

    Here’s my take:

    (1) There are areas of the National Forests that are too close to neighbors and/or busy recreation sites.. in the 80’s when my work with the FS involved shooting cones from trees, we learned the distance that our rifles could shoot and there shouldn’t be people within that distance. So it seems like people could figure out and map these zones (kind of like the WUI).

    (2) Repeated target shooting could be in NF permitted areas, but with a local gun club or someone else to keep the place cleaned up, and ensure no dumping of things to shoot at, and that people follow the rules. Which costs money/time- maybe a ski area permit kind of thing with commercial folks who can charge? And/or partner with private folks to provide that service.

    (3) There may be problems with enforcement.. when I’m in the woods and someone is shooting, my instinct is not to get closer to figure out where they are and whether they’re on public or private land. Maybe folks could report it and someone could send out drones to observe?

  6. “On Thursday morning, officials said the draft decision would restrict recreational sport shooting on 225,574 acres of the 1.4 million-acre Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.” (But apparently you can shoot everywhere during hunting season, as long as you are trying to hit a game animal.) Nothing here about permits or the private land contribution.


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