SALT LAKE CITY — Drought and wildfire danger has caused the Utah Department of Natural Resources to temporarily ban all campfires and recreational target shooting immediately on their 146 wildlife management areas (WMAs) across the state.
A DNR spokesman said because wildfires can destroy essential wildlife habitat, this temporary ban will protect Utah’s wildlife management areas.
“Significant resources go toward improving the habitat in these wildlife and waterfowl management areas to make them more beneficial for a variety of wildlife species, which is why these proactive, preventative measures are so important,” DWR Director Rory Reynolds said. “Protecting these resources from wildfire is crucial for wildlife and is a huge benefit for anglers, hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts who utilize these properties.”
Wildlife management areas in Utah were formed to help minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property and are vital to providing important winter ranges and feeding grounds for many wildlife species, including big game, wildlife management areas
There are several WMA’s in the Cache Valley including Hardware Ranch, Millville Face, and Bud Phelps to name a few. The WMAs can be found on the DNR website.
Habitat Section Chief Eric Edgley said the ban was issued in an effort to decrease the risk of wildfires being started.
“With the extreme dry conditions, any spark can start a fire,” Edgley 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. Last year, two large wildfires on WMAs burned several hundred acres of wildlife habitat and were started by target shooting with firearms. Obviously, campfires and fireworks also create sparks that can cause wildfires.”
The temporary restriction only applies only to target shooting with a firearm on the WMAs and does not include legal possession of a firearm or hunting.
It is unlawful to start a campfire of any kind, including portable fire pits during the temporary ban.
Fireworks and explosives are never allowed on any WMA in Utah.
Kaitlyn Webb, the statewide prevention and fire communications coordinator, reported in Wednesday’s briefing so far this year Utah has had 326 total wildfires. Of those, 294 were human-caused wildfires and 12,000 acres have burned statewide.
DWR conservation officers will be enforcing the temporary restrictions at WMAs statewide. Visitors to the areas are encouraged to keep their eyes open and to report any campfires, fireworks or any firearm target shooting by calling the UTIP hotline at 1-800-662-DEER (3336), submitting through the UTDWR Law Enforcement app or by texting 847411.
During the temporary restrictions on recreational firearm target shooting, Utah still have several options available for target shooting. DWR has two public shooting ranges right here in Cache Valley (the Cache Valley Public Shooting Range at 2851 West 200 North in Logan and Sportsman’s Paradise at 750 West 8700 South in Paradise). There are a variety of public and private indoor and outdoor shooting ranges throughout Utah. To find the nearest shooting range, visit the DWR website.
Statewide fire restriction information and wildfire prevention tips can be found on Utahfireinfo.gov.