SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has temporary closed two shooting ranges in Cache Valley and two in Box Elder County due to dry conditions during wildfire season.
The measures went into effect less than one week after people who were target shooting at a metal target at the Richmond WMA facility with a .50-caliber rifle at a metal target. A bullet caused a spark that ignited a fire that quickly burned 2 acres of wildlife habitat before it was extinguished.
The Millville shooting range has also been closed, as well as Box Elder’s Coldwater WMA and the Brigham Face WMA.
The dry and hot conditions have made it necessary for the DWR to temporarily close 17 of its wildlife management areas (WMAs) to target shooting in central and northern Utah to recreational shooting of firearms.
“As of Aug. 5, there have been 712 wildfires in Utah caused by people, which is 333 more than in 2019 and 202 more than in 2018 at this same time in the summer wildfire season,” said Faith Jolley, a DWR spokesperson. “So far this season, 28 wildfires have been caused by target shooting, costing nearly $1 million to taxpayers.”
“Wildfires destroy essential wildlife habitat, and wildlife management areas are vital to providing important wintering ranges for many wildlife species, including big game,” Jolley added. ”A lot of resources go toward improving habitat in these wildlife and waterfowl management areas, which is why it is important to take measures to prevent wildfires.”
Another bullet ricochet was likely the cause of the 438-acre Big Hollow Fire that burned near Heber City in mid-July, according to officials investigating the incident. The Big Hollow Fire burned several hundred acres of DWR’s Wallsburg WMA.
“With the dry conditions, any spark can start a fire,” Scott Walker, DWR northern region habitat manager said. “With firearm target shooting, sparks from metal targets aren’t the only threat — a bullet or other projectile glancing off a rock is all it takes to cause a spark and a fire. Let’s all do our part to prevent wildfires and to protect wildlife.”
Fireworks and explosives are never allowed on any WMA, and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands has also restricted open fires of any kind on state lands, except within the facilities designated for them in improved campgrounds, picnic areas or home sites where running water is present. DWR’s WMAs do not have any established campgrounds or fire pits, so campfires aren’t currently allowed on any WMAs.
Effective immediately and until fire conditions improve, target shooting with firearms is not allowed anywhere on the following WMAs: Morgan, Sanpete, Summit, Utah and Wasatch counties.