Forest Service wants safe, responsible shooting in Hunter Canyon

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HEREFORD — Question: How can Hunter Canyon’s recreational use be protected?

Answer: By all users agreeing how to do it.

While the question and answer may be simple, the reality is a little more difficult.

Coronado National Forest Sierra Vista District Ranger Mark Ruggiero is pondering the questions while looking for solutions.

Saturday, he and other people gathered in the canyon as part of a cleanup day where they also discussed how to, in Ruggiero’s words “promote Hunter Canyon’s benefits to be enjoyed by hikers, bikers, horseback riders and target shooters.”

As the district ranger, he can direct the decisions, but Ruggiero said he wants the citizens, the users, to come together in deciding how the canyon is used to satisfy the recreational public’s desires.

A possible answer is the establishment of a Collaborative Alternatives Team, like one being headed by Ted Mouras, who likes to do a number of things in the canyon, to include being a responsible shooter.

But a major issue is that recreational shooting in Hunter has gotten out of control, Mouras said. “It has raised concerns about public safety and has resulted in damage to national forest lands.”

However, it doesn’t mean disallowing shooting activities is the solution. Instead, they need to find a way to do it safely so others can enjoy the type of recreational activities they pursue, Mouras said.

Ruggiero said he hopes the formation of CAT will bring a number of people together to find ways where all activities can be accomplished.

Noting an invitation to the National Rifle Association will be made, the district ranger said their input is needed to ensure recreational shooters know they have responsibilities to both themselves and other users.

Joining the Saturday effort were members of the Friends of the Huachuca Mountains and the Huachuca Gould’s Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation.

Lou Kuttner, president of the Friends of the Huachuca Mountains said there are ways for all kinds of users to take part in the beauty of Hunter Canyon, which is returning back to its former splendor after the 2011 Monument Fire.

Ruggiero said he is trying to establish logical rules for use in Hunter, as well as Ash Canyon, both of which have multiple recreaional uses, including recreational shooting.

Because the Monument Fire led to the creation of additional small roadways, for the firefighting equipment used in 2011, he said the U.S. Forest Service will be eliminating those areas, now used by drivers, to return the canyons to a more original state.

“The Forest Service supports multiple use,” Ruggiero said.

After a short discussion, around 20 people headed up to the area where recreational shooters generally go.

One of the volunteers, Carole Frumenti, was on her knees near a tree, picking up brass casings.

She said she opposes recreational shooting and continues to be upset by shooters who will not clean up after themselves.

Frumenti can hear a lot of shooting from where she lives, it’s just “horrible, horrible, day after day, and they don’t clean up the area.”

Mouras said the establishment of the CAT will allow the Forest Service and the community “to find ways to manage local national forest lands for all users.”

CAT will develop recommendations, and representatives from a wide range of interested parties will be invited to participate, he said.

Information about meetings will be made available once CAT is more firmly established, Mouras said.

Ruggiero said, “We don’t intend to shut recreational shooting down.”

Just The Three of Us on Sun, 03/24/2013 - 6:36am

Simple solution: have people go to the SHOOTING RANGE to target practice.
That’s its sole purpose. I myself like to shoot, but I do it responsibly at
the range not where there are a lot of people wondering around. For some
reason there is just a particular mentality that goes with people who would
shoot in an inappropriate place in the first place. You’re never going to get
those types to clean up after themselves; they just don’t have it in them.
let’s face it, all of the east side of the range is simply too crowded for
safe shooting.

cms81586 on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 10:27am

I disagree. Federal NF land is for public recreational use to all who use it
safely and within the constraints of the regulations. You may not have the
common sense to find a safe place to shoot, but I’ve yet to see anyone
randomly shooting into a general area where “people wonder around.” A proper
backstop is easy enough to find. Why force people to pay to shoot at a range?
If you’d like to pay for my membership I’ll gladly go there. Every time I go
shooting I bring a garbage bag and pick up any trash I find. I’ve witnessed
others doing the same. By taking a short hike it’s apparent there’s far more
garbage in the Huachuca Mountains from illegal immigration than from some
brass cases and paper targets/cardboard left by a few irresponsible
recreational shooters.

fedjoe on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 12:38pm

I agree with cms81586, USFWS does not need to create additional restrictions
because of the trash left behind. All they need to do is enforce their
current law in their CFRs. Have the Rangers do more spot inspections and cite
anyone who is trashing the canyon or shooting recklessly. Don’t use a
hatchet where a scalpel is needed. USFWS lands by constitutional law are for
public usages for the enjoyment of the public. National Parks are for more
restrictive and protected from usages such as the Coronado National Memorial.
Let not confuse them.

weissler on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 12:56pm

I disagree with cms81586. There is not only trash from target shooting, but
I’ve also seen many trees that have had the bark shot clean off, not to
mention hearing about driving off of maintained roads, firing near occupied
structures, firing over occupied trails, and firing clear across a canyon
without scoping for people in harms way. All of those actions violate FS
regulations and either federal or state law. Hopefully, some of those target
shooters have been cited, but enforcement is hampered by a lack of sufficient
law enforcement to ensure public safety in the canyons.

Sumtingwong on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 7:34pm

weissler, so you say. Like readers believe what you say on the internet it
the truth.

marciensv on Thu, 03/28/2013 - 8:41pm

If someone can afford guns. Bullets to waste on target shooting. Then they
can afford membership at the shooting range. It’s called being responsible.

DirtyDave on Fri, 03/29/2013 - 10:47am

Don’t let a couple of bad eggs ruin it for everyone. The one and only
shooting range in the area is very crowded on the weekends. With the growth
around here, there are less and less places to safely go and shoot. The rule
of thumb is to take out more than you brought in. FYI - target practice is
NOT as waste of bullets.

Piper on Tue, 04/30/2013 - 2:35pm

Are you saying that everyone can use the canyon for all the legal reasons but
not the shooters even though shooting is a legal activity on those lands? Are
you being responsible in how you address this issue by suggesting a solution
that prevents others from doing something that is legal? marciensv, perhaps
if you put more thought into it you could come up with a better suggestion.

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