Byers Rifle Shooting Range gets new firebreak
In late August last year local fire agencies kicked into high gear as they worked to battle a blaze raging along the Parshall Divide north of the Byers Canyon Shooting Range (BCSR), located on US Highway 40 just west of Byers Canyon.
The conflagration, which came to be known as the Byers Rifle Range Fire, lasted for several days and burned around 640-acres. While no buildings were damaged and no injuries were reported the position of the fire threatened the town of Hot Sulphur Springs, forced the closure of US Highway 40 through Byers Canyon and halted rail traffic. The fire was sparked by an errant .223 full-metal-jacket rifle round which struck an object and initiated a blaze in the dry sagebrush that lines the hillsides behind the shooting range.
The individual shooter who initiated the fire was acting in a legal manner. It was not the first time someone conducting target practice at the Byers Canyon Shooting Range accidentally started a fire. Shooters at the range sparked two other infernos, in 2010 and 2012. Both of those circumstances featured tracer-ammunition that initiated the two blazes.
“No one did anything illegal last year, it was a perfect storm of circumstances that led to the fire,” stated Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) Technician Doug Gillham. “Regardless, we can make the range safer and although it will be an inconvenience for a few people, the upgrade will be worth it in the long run.”
To reduce the potential for future fires sparked by target practice at the BCSR CPW, which administers the shooting range from the local Hot Sulphur Springs office, initiated plans this week to construct a firebreak to surround the property. Heavy machinery operators began working Tuesday morning to create the firebreak, which will also function as a fire access road for firefighters in the event of another inferno. Portions of the range were closed while the work is being conducted.
The project is expected to take about two days and the range is scheduled to reopen fully later this week, possibly as early as Wednesday evening. Gillham said shooters may experience long wait lines while construction is ongoing and may be asked to move to alternative shooting lanes as needed. A press release from CPW states, “He (Gillham) advises the public to be cautious, observe construction signage and avoid heavy machinery.”
“The work should only take a couple of days, so we just ask for everyone’s patient while the firebreak is built,” stated Gillham.
The Byers Canyon Shooting Range features five centerfire rifle ranges, one .22 caliber rifle range, one shotgun range and one handgun range. The range also includes straw bales for archery target practice. If you have questions about the project please contact the CPW Hot Sulphur Springs office at 970-725-6200.
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A Denver Water project to repair and replace deteriorating culverts on Jones Pass Road will require closure of a lower portion of the road on the east side of the Continental Divide.