Forest Service seeks comment on Grand County sport shooting locations
If you go
What: Forest Service open house about sport shooting management
When: 4-6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14
Where: Granby Fire House, on Highway 40 just south of the Fraser River
Guns, hunting and the culture that goes with them are a foundational aspect of Grand County’s heritage.
The high mountain meadows and forested byways of the county provide firearms enthusiasts with plenty of prime locations to sight in their rifles or just plink away for fun. Now the U.S. Forest Service is looking for comments from those who enjoy sport shooting in Grand County as they work to develop a management plan for the activity in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
“This is a great opportunity for our local community to get engaged in national forest management at the local level,” said Craig Magwire, District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service Sulphur Ranger District. “I really hope people take the time to think about areas they may be concerned about recreational shooting on National Forest Land.”
Magwire was quick to make it clear that the Forest Service supports sport shooting.
“The U.S. Forest Service recognizes sport shooting is a legitimate use of the land,” Magwire said.
“We just want people to be safe,” added Nick Schade, Natural Resource Specialist with the Sulphur Ranger District.
Magwire explained forest officials are particularly interested in any areas in the national forest that residents feel could create potential safety concerns with regards to sport shooting.
“The proposal is intended to identify lands suitable for recreational sport shooting,” he said, “and to identity lands not considered suitable.”
The Forest Service is currently accepting comments on the issue, through Sept. 19. You can submit your comments to them either by mail or by attending an Open House on Monday, Sept. 14 in Granby.
Reid Armstrong, Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Forest Service, pointed out the open house format allows residents to submit comments at any time during the two-hour time block.
“Folks can come and go,” Armstrong said. “We will have people there the whole time period so folks can just pop in and provide their comments.”
Comments can also be submitted via mail or email. You can mail your comments to “Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests; Attn: RSS Proposal; 2150 Centre Ave. Building E; Fort Collins, CO; 80526. You can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mailed comments must be postmarked by Sept. 19.
Currently sport shooting is regulated in national forests though those regulations are not part of the larger Forest Management Plan. The last time the Forest Management Plan was updated was in 1997. Armstrong explained since 1997 there has been a large increase in the number of people using the forests for recreational shooting.
“Target shooting wasn’t as popular as it is today,” she said.
She also pointed out increased housing development around the National Forest, along the Front Range especially, and increases in the number of people recreating have prompted action.
“We think there are safety concerns being raised,” she said.
Schade explained the existing sport shooting regulations. Current regulations for sport shooting in the National Forest require shooters to be more than 150 yards away from campgrounds, picnic areas and residences, shooting across roads or trails is prohibited and shooting cannot be conducted adjacent to a body of water.
The new proposal being considered by the Forest Service, though not officially adopted, would increase the distance recreational shooters must be away from residential subdivisions and high use recreation areas to half a mile.
The Forest Service created a map that shows areas affected by the new proposal, which appears to have minimal impact on Grand County with the Winter Park Ski Area Permit Boundary being a proposed no-go area for sport shooting. According to the map the remainder of Grand County will likely remain unaffected by the new proposal, though public comments could affect the final proposal.
The majority of impact from the new proposal will fall in Larimer, Boulder, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties, where housing developments have been established on the boundaries of the national forests. You can view the map produced by the Forest Service by going to http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=46910, and opening the PDF titled, “MAP-Rec Sports Shooting Proposal”.
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Winter Park Resort is reporting over a foot of fresh snow from Monday’s spring storm.