Target shooters are once again blasting away on national forest land near the Catalina Highway, despite efforts to close the area off with boulders — and many are leaving behind bullet-riddled targets ranging from tires and appliances to a fire extinguisher.
Coronado National Forest officials say shooting at the site northeast of Tucson is discouraged, but not illegal.
“But littering at the site is not legal,” said Heidi Schewel, spokeswoman for the forest. “People found littering or abandoning personal property can receive violation notices from our law enforcement personnel, which can include monetary fines or imprisonment.”
AN ONGOING PROBLEM
The shooting site — less than 100 yards from the Catalina Highway at a pull-off near the 4.4-mile point on the road — drew public concern in October 2012 when shooting rattled the nerves of passing drivers and prompted some to report shots fired to authorities.
Forest officials discouraged shooting in the area “due to the fact that it may alarm motorists or cyclists, and there are more appropriate areas for people to enjoy the sport of recreational shooting,” Schewel said.
She noted that Pima County crews subsequently covered the original shooting site with tons of boulders — but since then, shooters have merely moved a few dozen yards west of the original area.
A cleanup of the site last year removed most of the shooting debris, but in recent months, shooters have once more littered the area with shot-up targets such as bottles, cans, metal objects and appliances.
“A cleanup date has not been set” for removing the recently accumulated debris, Schewel said.
Schewel said recreational shooting is an appropriate use of national forest lands “when done legally, safely and responsibly.”
“While it is hoped that users of the Coronado National Forest would recreate responsibly and practice public lands stewardship, apparently not everyone does,” she said. “In such cases, education, and, if necessary, law enforcement actions can be utilized for protection of natural resources to be enjoyed by visitors engaging in a variety of activities.”
Information wasn’t immediately available as to whether anyone has been cited for littering at the site near the Catalina Highway.
Other shooting-site options include indoor ranges in Tucson, and plans are under consideration for a public shooting range in the Redington Pass area east of the city.