Let's all throw in with the Friends of Redington Pass, pull on our hiking boots and spend a day in that high mountain passage between the Catalina and Rincon mountains. Let's take back the pass.

The weather's great - and the friends group believes that by using the pass, we'll discourage rogue shooters who so far seem determined to trash the area.

It was disheartening to learn these outlaws had shot up a "Shooting Prohibited" sign and smashed another sign to the ground - thumbing their noses at those who've recently worked hard to clean up the area so that it can be enjoyed by hikers, birders, mountain bikers, campers, picnickers and other nature lovers.

We know that lots of shooters appreciate nature and enjoy hiking. And we know that most shooters would no sooner trash public property than they'd give up their Second Amendment rights.

But vandals like those who are trashing Redington Pass make all shooters look bad - and they sully the outdoor experience for everyone.

Here's the background: As the Star's Doug Kreutz reported on Sunday, fences were erected in January around three areas, and cleanup work began. This was no small undertaking: It involved trucking out 75 cubic yards - that's three dump trucks full - of trash, including spent bullets, shell casings, appliances, beer kegs and other items used as targets.

The U.S. Forest Service, which manages the area, and the Friends of Redington Pass hosted a event on April 6 celebrating the reclamation of the pass for all of us to enjoy.

And now comes the news that vandals are at it again.

Forest Service spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said the signs will be repaired, and enforcement patrols will continue in the area to "prevent damage to the public's property, provide for employee and public safety, and enforce applicable regulations."

Meanwhile, the president of the Friends of Redington Pass, Kirk Emerson, told Kreutz the group hopes that the public will simply take back the pass:

"I believe that the more people we can attract who want to enjoy the pass and demand a safe recreational experience up there, the fewer of these incidents will happen."

So let's do it. Put on your hiking boots. Take back the pass.

Arizona Daily Star