Officials Warn Against Illegal Dumping and Target Shooting
Illegal dumping can create a problem as people head out for target shooting this fire season.
Crews spent Tuesday morning picking up debris at an illegal shooting range on Peavine Mountain. The ground is covered in shotgun shell casings and bullet casings which surround larger objects including a TV and car door. People use them as targets.
"There was actually a boat that was in the middle of this target debris and the folks that would come up and shoot, shot that boat all the way down into pieces," Capt. Don Harris, U.S. Forest Service said.
Harris says illegal dumping is a growing problem that causes problems other than being an eyesore.
"The public lands are being drastically impacted by the amount of debris that's left in the different shooting areas and not just shooting but illegal dumping from people's household," Harris said.
Officials say illegal shooting ranges and dumping grounds interfere with drainage or storm runoff. They say dumping and ammunition can disrupt the soil, water and plants.
"Obviously, you're shooting lead into the hillside, which enough of it in the ground can be a contaminant," Lt. Scott Iacoboni, Washoe County Sheriff's Office said. "With all the snow that we have and the runoff, that does make it down to the lower basin into the valley."
People abandon a lot of different things, including cars and semi truck trailers. Harris says three cars are submerged in the Kiowa Pond and another is deserted on the shore. Anyone caught littering could face up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
"We're going to start pulling the VIN numbers off of these frames and we're going to track down who the owner of that registered owner of that vehicle and we're going to file charges against that registered owner," Harris said.
People are not allowed to target shoot on public land if it is within 5,000 feet or nearly a mile of a "congested area" marker. That is to keep shooters away from homes and businesses. That does not stop some people from using these areas.
"With the proper outreach, right now, we can prevent that by building partnerships with the public and get this stuff reported so that we can come up and take some action," Harris said.
Officials say congested areas continue to change as the area grows.
"As we grow and they start building, those little pockets of homes, it does infringe on what used to be an open area or a non-congested area," Iacoboni said.
Target shooting is also concerning because of the higher risk of fire danger. Every year, fires start as the result of target shooting. Harris says illegal dumping grounds are more vulnerable than others.
"The more people come out here and shoot, the more things that could spark from a bullet hitting a rock or impacting a piece of metal causing a spark," Harris said.
Along with the minimum distance from a congested area, people are not allowed to shoot within 150 yards of a road, body of water, recreation area, home or building.
People are encouraged to take precautions wherever they shoot. Especially as vegetation dries out.
"Bullet fragments can heat up to 1,400 degrees," Jennifer Diamond, Fire Prevention Officer for Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest said. "Our cheat grass out here can ignite at 640 degrees. So if you put those numbers together, the winds that we have on a regular basis around here, that makes for a perfect storm for fires."
Target shooters should also bring water or a fire extinguisher and a shove, just in case they spark a fire. It is best to shoot in an area with cell service, too, so you can call during an emergency.
"If you are shooting, make sure it's clear of vegetation, make sure you're not shooting into rocks or other metal types of debris," Diamond said.