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Wednesday, May 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Shooting top cause of fires on BLM’s Fishtrap area

PUBLIC LANDS -- The potential for destructive wildfires continues in September, and the region's U.S. Bureau of Land Management  areas are especially vulnerable because of their lower elevations.

Shooters are being targeted for education about their role in causing wildfires.  Of the 13 fires west of Spokane in the Fishtrap Management area alone since 2011, seven have been attributed to shooting, said Jeff Clark, BLM spokesman in Spokane.  The fires were started by driving in dry grass and shooting and shooting into dry grass or into loose rocks that can spark or at exploding targets.

"Exploding targets often are used in unintended ways, such as packing large amounts of the material and putting it in other containers," Clark said. "That's why the targets have been banned on most public lands."

The 10,552-acres Watermelon Hill fire in 2014 was sparked by shooters blasting exploding targets.

Shooters also have been cited for causing wildfires on state wildlife lands.

Driving off road is prohibited on most public lands and exploding targets have been banned from BLM and national forest areas.

Shooters also shoot themselves in the foot by ventilating unauthorized targets, such as signs and old farm machinery, and leaving trash at shooting sites, Clark said.

If you're a gun owner and you see an irresponsible shooter in the field, let him know that he's costing all of us places to practice and sight in our firearms.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources has closed several areas in recent years because of slob shooters, including a site near Suncrest. Spokane County imposed a no-shooting zone on DNR land near Starr Road after repeated abuses by shooters.

Following are the fire names and causes of the Fishtrap Lake-area fires since 2011:

2011 -- Lakeview Loop, caused by shooting; 8 acres.

2012 -- Williams Lake, caused by equipment; 200 acres.

2012 -- Miller Homestead, caused by shooting; 358 acres.

2012 -- Fish Resort, cause unknown; 0.9 acre.

2012 -- Square Butte, caused by railroad; 0.1 acre.

2012 -- Lake Valley Loop, caused by shooting; 0.1 acre.

2014 -- Square Butte, caused by shooting; 11 acres.

2014 -- Folsom  Farm, cause unknown; 0.3 acre.

2014 -- Miller Ranch, caused by fireworks; 8 acres.

2014 -- Fishtrap shoot pit, caused by shooting; 36.7 acres.

2014 -- Watermelon Hill, caused by shooting; 10,552 acres.

2015 -- I-90 Sprague, caused by vehicle; 1,692 acres.

2016 -- Fishtrap, caused by shooting; 64.7 acres.

"We are not interested in stopping shooting, but we do want shooters to be aware and 'know before you go,'" Clark said.

That means know the local conditions and avoid shooting into loose rocks or dry vegetation.

Avoid extremely hot and windy days and to remember explosive targets, tracer rounds and fireworks are prohibited on federal public lands.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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