The Governor of Utah has signed legislation, S.B. 120, that will allow the state forester to restrict target shooting during periods of enhanced wildfire danger.
When first introduced by state Senator Margaret Dayton it was temporarily withdrawn after the bill received criticism from some, including Utah Shooting Sports Council Chairman Clark Aposhian who was quoted as saying:
If it restricts gun owners from going there, then it should also restrict bird watchers. It has to be closed to everybody.
The legislation does not close areas to the public. It allows the state forester to “restrict or prohibit target shooting in areas where hazardous conditions exist”.
According to Utah State Forester Dick Buehler, of the 1,528 fires in the state in 2012, 33 were caused by target shooting which cost over $16 million to suppress. In October, 2012 when we wrote about the increasing number of fires started by target shooters using exploding targets, we found 10 fires started by these devices in Utah over a 5-month period last year. One of them burned over 5,500 acres.
The legislature in Oregon is considering a bill, HB 3199, that would prohibit the use of sky lanterns (or fire balloons), exploding targets, and tracer ammunition on land within the boundaries of a forest protection district.