20% of local National Forests closed to shooting in the proposal floated by the USDA for Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
The National Forest Supervisor made a final decision back on June 13, 2019 which was our worst case fears, and decided to close a massive amount of public lands to recreational shooting. However the decision had some caveats. It will not take affect until there are public ranges available in each county.
Southern Boulder County: All NFS lands identified as unsuitable for recreational sport shooting from the Gilpin-Boulder County line north to the Boulder-Canyon Lakes Ranger District boundary and west to the Boulder Ranger District boundary will be closed to recreational sport shooting via a forest order when a range with a capacity of at least 25 shooting lanes is open to the public for use within this vicinity.
Northern Boulder County and Southern Larimer County: All NFS lands identified as unsuitable for recreational sport shooting from the Boulder-Canyon Lakes Ranger District boundary north to US Highway 34 (including closures on both sides of US Highway 34) and west to the Canyon Lakes Ranger District boundary will be closed to recreational sport shooting via a forest order when a range with a capacity of at least 25 shooting lanes is open to the public for use within this vicinity.
Another update in the final decision was what would happen if the public ranges close? The Forest manager speaks to that in this quote:
Providing opportunities for recreational sport shooting in conjunction with closing unsuitable areas of the ARNF is an important balance in this decision. For that reason, should any of the developed shooting ranges provided by the Boulder, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties, or the Forest Service range at Devil’s Nose in conjunction with this decision become no longer available to the public for use, the following will occur. For a period of 6 months to 3 years following closure of the range, the forest supervisor will have the discretion to rescind the closures of unsuitable areas that were associated with that shooting range. If the shooting range is still closed after 3 years, then the forest supervisor must rescind the closures associated with that shooting range.
Here is a link to the National Forest Service project page: Recreational Shooting Closure Project
Here is the link to the map showing the decided closures: Map of Closed area
Here is the link to the final published decision: Published Decision of Forest Service
National Forests closed to shooting includes 20% of Arapaho and Roosevelt National forests all near population areas. This is the current proposal by the USDA. Please submit your comments in opposition of this attempt to marginalize shooting sports in Colorado!
The comment period has been extended until September 9, 2015.
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An excerpt from the Q/A document:
areas that were not suitable for RSS (Recreational Sport Shooting) were generally within a ½ mile of residential subdivisions and concentrated recreation use areas. Approximately 287,000 acres (or 20% of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests) are proposed as not suitable for RSS.
Here is a picture of the proposed closures:
Notice above that all the areas planned for closure are the areas most convenient to the population centers.
Here is another quote from the Q/A document:
The ARP is committed to updating the 1997 Forest Plan to provide direction for Recreational Sport Shooting and has started exploring ways to address this issue. The Forest is taking this action to resolve a safety issue and provide safe opportunities for this use.
I would like access to the studies that show that there is a safety problem associated with the current Forest Service Plan that has not been addressed by the rules already in place. That some entity has already decided that there is a problem and has moved forward with creating a project – seems to be politically motivated at best. I have searched the internet for injuries sustained by hikers in the affected forests and I cannot find any indication of any events that would indicate there is a significant problem. I have requested any data from the USDA – but they claim they don’t have very much concrete data to indicate there is a problem.
My suggestions to remedy the problem:
1. Close the proposed areas to Hiking instead of RSS
2. Without closing any areas to RSS – create free, well maintained public ranges that provide a more desirable location for RSS than currently exist. The number of RSS users need to be understood so that adequate facilities can be built to service the large and growing number of RSS users. This single step will in and of itself reduce the impact on other areas since people naturally choose the easy route. Providing well maintained facilities open year around which are convenient to the centers of population will make the choice for Recreational Shooters very easy.
3. Provide education to ALL users of the shared resources (the National Forests) about the equality of the shared uses – and provide suggestions on ways to minimize the impact of the various users on others.