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Cleaning up a trashed local treasure

Cleaning up a trashed local treasure

CREATED Jan 14, 2013
Reporter: Kevin Keen
 
CORONADO NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Shotgun shells, graffiti and garbage. That’s not what anyone wants to see heading into a national forest, but that's been part of the landscape of one in Pima County for decades. Now, crews are cleaning it up and temporarily shutting down part of the problem.
 
Redington Pass, part of the Coronado National Forest northeast of Tucson, is a dirt mountain road stretching through wilderness left largely untouched. But some have left their mark, and the U.S. Forest Service said the problem's getting worse.
 
“People are beginning to bring things like electronics -- old electronics, old computers -- that contain hazardous materials,” said Larry Pratt, part of the forest’s Santa Catalina Ranger District.
 
Recreational shooters come for target practice at many spots along Redington Pass.
 
Recreational shooting here isn't illegal, according to Pratt, but leaving behind shotgun shells, shell casings, targets and trash is against the rules.
 
Crews closed three popular shooting sites Monday for the time being. Workers installed barbed wire fences to keep people out as the federal agency re-evaluates how it manages the area, who uses it and how the agency can better protect it.
 
The remaining unsupervised shooting spots will remain open, Pratt said. 
 
Crews will pick up litter, check for soil contamination and figure out how people can shoot here more safely.
 
“Ricochets do occur,” Pratt said to explain concerns he’s heard. “We haven't had anybody injured in recent time.”
 
“Is it possible that, when all is said and done here, firearm enthusiasts will lose a spot to shoot?” KGUN9 News reporter Kevin Keen asked Pratt. “It's too early to say at this particular point,” he answered.
 
The process will take at least nine months and the service says hikers, bikers, campers, firearm users and others can and will be involved.
 
“Our objective is to balance out the uses here so that everyone can enjoy Redington Pass in a responsible fashion,” Pratt said.
 
Friends of Redington Pass president Kirk Emerson told KGUN9 she’s pleased with the Forest Service dedicating resources and attention to this problem. Of particular concern, she said, is the fact that the shooting sites are so close to the road.
 
As the cleanup is happening, the Tucson Rod and Gun Club told KGUN9 it’s trying to build a dedicated shooting range along Redington Pass. The club reported, if approved, the range would be open to everyone and address many of the concerns people have.
  
Forest Service representatives did not have a total expected cost of the Redington Pass project immediately available.