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Forest Service looking to restrict dispersed shooting in the county

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By Ian Neligh

The U.S. Forest Service is looking at how to restrict dispersed shooting in Clear Creek County or whether to ban it altogether.

Forest Service spokeswoman Sarah Beck said four plans have been developed that include everything from focusing on extending the distance around homes to plans the county commissioners thought were appropriate for sports shooting in the county.

“And then alternative four: This asks the question, what does it look like if the entire forest is closed to shooting?” Beck said. “We’re (working) very closely with the (sports shooting) partnership to develop a solution to this that makes sense, that is enforceable, that allows people to shoot in areas where shooting is safe and respectful, (and) that doesn’t allow shooting in areas where it isn’t safe.”

The plans were presented to the public on Nov. 1 at a town hall meeting in Idaho Springs, and the Forest Service hopes to get feedback from residents before it makes a decision next fall.

Garry Sanfaçon, coordinator for the Northern Front Range Recreational Sport Shooting Management Partnership, said the group is working with the Forest Service to host similar town halls in Boulder, Larimer and Gilpin counties.

The Devil’s Nose shooting range near Echo Lake is being developed as a public shooting area and wouldn’t be affected by any of the four plans, he said.

“We are in the process of analyzing the effects of the proposed alternatives and any new ones that you folks come up with,” said Arapahoe National Forest Acting District Ranger Basia Trout.

Ralph Nelms, who lives near the border of Clear Creek and Gilpin counties, said he prefers the alternative that takes into consideration the distance between shooting areas and homes.

“We have people come up on Saturdays and Sundays shooting everywhere. Every direction. I have had bullets fly over my head,” Nelms said, adding some neighbors have told him that bullets have hit the ground near their feet.

Nelms said he’s tried unsuccessfully to get the Forest Service to put up signs letting shooters know that houses are located behind the trees.

“You can’t see them, and people are shooting on the road toward our house,” Nelms said. “There are instances of sports shooters up there endangering me and my property, and nobody is doing anything about it.”