County discusses potential ban of firearm use during fire restriction |

County discusses potential ban of firearm use during fire restriction

Smoke rises from the hills north of the Byers Canyon Rifle Range in late August 2015 after a fire broke out when a full metal jacket round struck a rock at the popular shooting range. Officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently closed state managed shooting ranges across the northwestern section of the state.
File photo

With the 1,000-plus-acre wildfire still burning south of Williams Fork Reservoir and a high fire danger across the region, Grand County commissioners entered into a discussion this week on whether or not to ban discharging firearms within the county.

Grand County Sheirff Brett Schroetlin raised the topic, which he felt county officials needed to discuss.

“We receive a lot of questions about people being able to shoot in the forest,” Schroetlin told commissioners.

Schroetlin pointed out that Clear Creek County recently amended their stage two fire restrictions to prohibit shooting firearms and highlighted a recent decision by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to close shooting ranges across northwestern Colorado including Grand County’s Byers Canyon Rifle Range.

“I am not for or against it,” Schroetlin said. “But we need to have that discussion.”

Commissioner Rich Cimino sought and received confirmation that tracer ammunition is prohibited in Grand County along with any type of exploding target. Cimino raised concerns about the possibility that closure of the Byers Canyon Rifle Range could potentially lead to higher numbers of firearms being discharged on National Forest land in Grand County.

“This closure of an area that is already bermed is potentially driving shooters out to dispersed areas,” Cimino said.

He questioned whether the rifle range should be opened to “concentrate” firearms use in that area.

Tuesday’s discussion was a routine weekly review of current fire conditions by county officials. Schroetlin recommended remaining in stage two fire restrictions for the time being. He noted several other counties in the area had recently adopted stage two restrictions and most counties surrounding Grand are now under stage two restrictions.

According to Schroetlin, Grand County currently meets six out of seven factors on the Standardized Federal Fire Matrix, which is a list of seven specific fire hazard factors related to moisture content in fuels, firefighting resource availability and drought indicators along with other factors. Typically fire restrictions are implemented if at least four out of the seven factors are met.

Officials from Grand Fire confirmed they have received no changes in the official fire danger level for Grand County and as of Thursday morning fire danger in the region is still listed as high.

The commissioners took no action regarding fire restrictions and did not amend the current fire restrictions to prohibit the use of firearms in Grand County. The commissioners will meet again next week to further discuss the issue of firearms use while considering any changes to fire restrictions in the county.

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