Recreational shooting ban in Arizona national forests starts Wednesday
PHOENIX — The National Forest Service is prohibiting the use of recreational shooting beginning Wednesday in three of the state’s national forests in an effort to minimize fire risk.
Due to the dry conditions and the added fuel brought over from the above-average winter rain, recreational shooting is not permitted in the Coronado, Prescott and Tonto National Forests starting Wednesday at 5 p.m. until July 31, or until otherwise specified, the forest service said in a press release Tuesday.
Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun, except while engaged in a lawful hunt, is prohibited under the restriction.
The coronavirus outbreak in the state also led to the decision, as the assembly of wildland firefighters engaging in suppression efforts becomes a public health concern, the release said.
“The decision to implement a shooting restriction is driven by amplified risk of wildfire in areas increasingly vulnerable to drying conditions combined with the likely resource shortage due to COVID-19 mitigation within our fire organization,” Acting Regional Forester Elaine Kohrman said in the release.
“This restriction also attempts to reduce smoke emissions that compromise first responder and public respiratory health.”
Within the last two weeks alone, the three national forests have experienced seven wildland fires likely caused by recreational shooting, resulting in hundreds of acres burned, the release said.
Violating the shooting restriction may result in an appearance in federal court, fines or other penalties.