BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Gun enthusiasts are worried something like the death of a camper by a stray bullet in Douglas County would happen. They say more and more people are using public lands for recreation. Now representatives from Clear Creek, Gilpin, Larimer and Boulder counties are looking at creating new safe areas for shooting.
The plan is not a result of camper Glenn Martin’s death in Doug County on July 3, but the group recognized the potential for that and began to work on a plan to prevent it several years ago.
The plan includes closing some national forest land to shooting and opening designated areas.
Joe Kirwin and Kyle Farr like the sound of the designated shooting areas in Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests. They’ve been going there for years and say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find places to shoot that are safe.
“There are people driving motorcycles and ATVs right through a line of people shooting guns and target shooting,” Kirwin said.
“There is a growing conflict that is happening between recreational sports shooters and homeowners and other forms of recreation,” Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner said.
Gardner says they are considering five areas, including one on the Peak to Peak Scenic Highway that would be open to shooting as the U.S. Forest Service considers closing the other areas.
“We are not trying to stop hunting, not trying to stop shooting. We’re just trying to find designated places where it can be safe,” Gardner said.
She says the goal is to identify locations that are assessable while still at least a quarter mile from homes, trails and camping and recreational areas.
“I am not hunting so I don’t need to go out in the boonies to find a spot to shoot,” Farr said. “I’d rather this — a nice, close spot that I can go to that is safe and clean.”
“I think there are one or two bad apples that spoil the bunch. You know you get somebody up here that leaves their trash around and brings up a kitchen refrigerator or the old couch and shoots at it,” Kirwin said. “I think that stuff would end up being limited to stop happening if we had designated areas where there is some kind of accountability.”
The plan is to approve at least one designated shooting area — not range — in each of the four counties. The process involves everything from sound tests to environmental site reviews and wildlife impact. The counties are working with the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.