Now that winter is upon us and holidays are over, many folks are anxious to go out and shoot their new firearms and some of that ammunition they were finally able to find in the store. For those shooters who chose to go out into the desert to sharpen their firearm skills on public land in “dispersed shooting areas,” this reminder is for you.
As a Conservation Officer responsible for patrolling the desert south of Boise, I can tell you from experience that target shooters during all times of the year can get themselves into trouble quickly if they don’t remember to clean up after themselves. For some reason, the months of December through March are especially bad for litter bugs.
Following Christmas, people interested in shooting in “dispersed shooting areas” commonly use empty boxes, old household appliances, furniture, TV’s, cans of spray paint, glass bottles, wood pallets, propane tanks, fire extinguishers, and essentially anything that will fit in their vehicle as targets. Unfortunately, many shooters who chose these types of targets will leave their junk behind when they leave for home. By the way, empty shotgun shells and empty rifle and pistol casings are trash too.
Shooters that I contact for littering violations commonly say things like, “I was just leaving it for the next person to shoot at,” or, “I thought it was ok to leave stuff here.” But neither excuse justifies littering on public lands.
Numerous volunteer organizations have spent countless hours picking up trash in the desert south of Boise, but they cannot keep up with the pace of the accumulating trash. Often within hours of shooting areas being cleaned up, they become littered with junk again.
Between February of 2020 and December of 2021, I wrote about 170 citations to target shooters in the desert south of Boise, of which, most were littering tickets. For those of you wondering, Ada County has collected over $33,000 in fines from the shooters I have cited in the area.
To keep yourself out of trouble in shooting areas found on public land, please adhere to the following recommendations to eliminate “trigger trash” and to keep everyone safe:
- Bring a garbage bag and a yard rake to pick up your trash (and even better, some of the litter left by others)
- Never shoot at anything made from glass or materials that will shatter and make it nearly impossible to clean up
- Don’t shoot household appliances or any other objects that are commonly dumped in shooting areas by the general public
- Never shoot from or across any roadways
- Double check to make sure the public land where you intend to shoot is open to shooting
- Always remember shoot in a safe direction with a good backstop
Just remember, target shooting on public land needs to be conducted responsibly so it can remain an option for future generations.
For a map of areas open to shooting on public lands south of Boise, see the safe shooting map prepared by the Bureau of Land Management at the following website: https://www.blm.gov/documents/idaho/public-room/map/morley-nelson-snake-river-birds-prey-safe-shooting-map
Shooters should also keep in mind that Fish and Game owns three established, safety-controlled shooting ranges in Southwest Idaho, including Black’s Creek Public Shooting Range, Garden Valley Public Shooting Range, and the Nampa Public Shooting Range, which all provide great alternatives to dispersed shooting areas. You can find more information on Fish and Game's public shooting ranges at idfg.idaho.gov/shoot.