Regional Forester Nora Rasure today announced restrictions on the use of explosives and exploding targets on National Forests and Grasslands within the Intermountain Region of the Forest Service.
“This closure order is necessary to protect the health and safety of users of the National Forest and Grasslands within the Intermountain Region,” said Regional Forester Rasure.
Explosives and exploding targets are designed to explode when shot with a rifle; the resulting explosions have been known to cause wildfires when conditions are right.
The closure order includes National Forest System lands in the states of Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming administered within the Intermountain Region as National Forests (NF), including: Ashley NF, Dixie NF, Fishlake NF, Manti-La Sal NF, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NF, Boise, NF, Caribou-Targhee NF, Payette NF, Salmon-Challis NF, Sawtooth NF, Bridger-Teton NF, and Humboldt-Toiyabe NF.
The closure order will be in effect for one year, from July 23, 2014 until July 22, 2015. [ACCESS ORDER]
Questions and Answers
Question: Have fires in the Intermountain Region been started by exploding targets?
Answer: Use of exploding targets is a documented cause of wildfires in western states.
Question: How does the Forest Service know it was exploding targets that started these fires (for those fires on USFS lands)?
Answer: Evidence left at the point of origin, and in some cases witness testimony revealed that exploding targets started the fire(s).
Question: You can produce the same effect as exploding targets with black powder, which is just as commercially available as exploding targets. Is it legal to shoot black powder? If so, doesn’t it run the same risk of starting a fire?
Answer: It is not illegal to shoot black powder rifles in the national forests under the Order; however it is illegal to shoot at targets made from black powder or any type of exploding target device.
Question: What are other Forest Service Regions doing?
Answer: Several Regions, including the Northern Region and the Rocky Mountain Region, currently have an exploding target prohibition in effect and those who are experiencing wildfires and safety risks may also implement the same prohibition.
Question: Some pro-firearm individuals would believe that this infringes on their right to shoot in the Forest. What is your response?
Answer: The Forest Service fully recognizes hunting and safe target shooting as a valid use of national forest system lands. The prohibition of exploding targets is not intended to adversely affect the sport of target shooting.
Question: Can these targets be used on BLM land?
Answer: As the use of exploding targets may vary by state, this question is best addressed to the different State Offices of the Bureau of Land Management.
Question: Exploding targets have been on the market for a number of years and have posed these safety risks, why are you just now prohibiting them?
Answer: It hasn’t been until recently that we have identified the cause of the fires to be exploding targets for several reasons. Investigators were not familiar with evidence associated with the use and fire starting potential of these targets. This coupled with the lack of witnesses available at the scene and much of the evidence sometimes is destroyed by the fire. With the increase in popularity and use of these types of targets, we have gained the experience and increased knowledge about how to identify the evidence associated with their use at the scene.
Question: If exploding targets cannot be used on the national forest, where can they be used?
Answer: Users will need to check with the applicable local, state or federal agencies to see if exploding targets are prohibited in other areas.
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