The following is a joint press release from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Falls Fire Department, and Bureau of Land Management – Idaho Falls District Office
The Idaho Falls Fire Department, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Land Management – Idaho Falls District reminds the public that the smallest of ignition sources during hot and windy conditions could easily cause a fire and result in a misdemeanor or a felony.
Target shooting with certain types of ammunition and exploding targets creates an easy ignition source. According to the BLM, exploding targets are prohibited on public land from May 10 until October 20. Using a proper target, such as a cardboard box or paper to limit the chance of a wildfire is recommended. In addition, law enforcement and firefighters ask that the public be cognizant of their surroundings and activities while shooting on public lands.
“Target shooting has already started one fire in the foothills this year,” states IFFD Battalion Chief Lance Johnson. “Much of the foothills east of Idaho Falls is private property. Countless people have gone there to shoot without permission, causing numerous fires over the years,” adds Johnson.
In 2018, three separate fires in Bonneville County were caused by target shooting, burning a total of 230 acres.
“You could be charged with a crime and liable for costs associated with fire suppression, rehabilitation, and property damage,” states Sgt. Bryan Lovell with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office. “Violation of the current burn ban restrictions set forth by the Bonneville County Commissioners’ resolution could also result in a misdemeanor,” adds Lovell.
While the 2016 Henry’s Creek Fire in Bonneville County was caused by fireworks rather than target shooting, the individual responsible for that was fire was ordered to pay more than $1.7 million in restitution. More than 50,000 acres burned and it took 260 personnel fighting the blaze for nearly two weeks to suppress the fire.
The BLM recommends taking these shooting precautions:
- Check weather conditions prior to shooting. Hot + Dry + Wind = Quick spreading wildfires.
- Choose a shooting area that is clear of dry grass/vegetation and rocks.
- Have a proper backstop.
- Always bring water, a fire extinguisher, and a shovel.
- Discharging a firearm using incendiary, steel core, or tracer ammunition is prohibited on BLM lands from May 10 to October 20.
- Burning, igniting, or causing to burn explosive material, including exploding targets is prohibited on BLM lands from May 10 to October 20.
Sgt. Bryan Lovell, Public Information Officer/Crime Prevention, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, (208) 529-1299 or (208) 317-8430.
Kerry Hammon, Public Information Officer, Idaho Falls Fire Department, (208) 612-8122, [email protected].
Chris Burger, Public Information Officer, Bureau of Land Management – Idaho Falls Division, (208) 524-7500, [email protected].
Sarah Wheeler, Public Affairs Officer, US Forest Service, (208) 557-5765, [email protected].