Gunfire no longer echoes across once-popular shooting sites in Redington Pass, and the U.S. Forest Service plans to resume environmental cleanup work Monday to analyze and remove soil contaminated by shooting debris.
The sites, between mile markers 5 and 7 on the Redington Road east of Tucson, will remain off limits to shooting until a temporary closure order is rescinded.
Cleanup of the sites — where lead concentrations in the soil far exceed levels considered to be safe — was interrupted by the partial government shutdown in October.
It’s important to resume the work because a health and ecological risk assessment “determined lead concentrations in the soil posed an unacceptable risk to the recreational user,” said Heidi Schewel, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. The agency manages the area.
Initial cleanup efforts in the spring removed 75 cubic yards — three large dump truck loads — of debris including spent bullets and shell casings as well as appliances, beer kegs and other items used as targets at the unsupervised shooting sites.
It wasn’t immediately known how long it will take to complete the cleanup work.
Schewel said the soil containing excessive lead concentrations will be hauled away and disposed of at a licensed waste management facility.
Schewel said a management plan being developed for Redington Pass will take into consideration multiple uses of the area, including hiking, mountain biking, hunting, grazing, wildlife watching, off-highway vehicle use, recreational shooting, camping, picnicking and nature study.
Meanwhile, the Forest Service is considering a proposal for a managed shooting range in the pass.