We were hanging out on the deck on a beautiful May afternoon. Suddenly, flames appeared on PeeWink Ridge, less than a mile from our house. Bryon called 911 to report it, As a precaution, he gathered the cat carriers, and prepared to evacuate.
Fortunately, that particular day, the winds were calm. The fire department responded quickly, but not fast enough. The cowardly young men who shot at exploding targets and set the ridge on fire had run away.
Every time I hear shots ring out in our neighborhood, these memories come back. Not only do I worry about fires, but I worry about the safety of me and my dogs. I actually avoid taking the dogs down to North Boulder Creek, when I hear shooting.
Finally, shooting takes away from what I treasure most about living off a 1-land dirt road. We chose our home because of quiet it is here. I joke to friends that sometimes the only sound I hear is the quivering aspen leaves. Shots ringing out every few seconds reminds me of living in the middle of an urban area and is not why we chose our log home in the woods.
One of the great positives of having such a long-lived fire ban this past summer was the ban on recreational shooting. Because an errant shot can easily spark and cause a fire. If the person chose to shoot on a windy day, that little spark could result in the destruction of homes.
Knowing this, I read with interest the “draft decision” by Arapaho National Forest last week. Of particular interest is a clause that prohibits recreational shooting in close proximity to residential areas. Thankfully, Peewink Ridge and the areas I have heard shooting in will now be off limits.
The draft decision is set in stone — the Forest Service is now in the middle of a final 45-day period for objections. But barring that, this will take effect for next spring and summer.
I have nothing except people owning guns or wanting to hunt or even shoot for recreational purposes. But it needs to be done responsibly, in a way that doesn’t put mountain residents at risk. Hopefully, this new policy is something that honors both sides and provides a brighter future for recreation on national forest lands.