APNewsBreak: Utah bans shooting in some areas

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s state forester announced a ban Tuesday on target shooting in some rural areas in the first-ever initiative of its kind.

Dick Buehler said the ban will take effect Wednesday for specific target-shooting sites on public or private land in Cache, Davis, Summit and Utah counties.

The forester says much of Utah remains tinder dry and ready to burn. Buehler previously banned the use of exploding targets, fireworks and steel-jacketed bullets on unincorporated private and state lands in Utah. Steel-jacketed bullets can give off sparks when they hit rocks.

Buehler held a news conference Tuesday to unveil a new interactive map at utahfireinfo.gov that shows the restrictions.

Five major wildfires were burning on national forests or range lands in Utah on Tuesday, half as many as a week ago. Fire crews were keeping the active fires largely contained.

Buehler’s order comes as another hot and dry week settles over Utah, raising the fire danger.

With sparks from bullets blamed for 21 of Utah’s wildfires this year, Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leaders last week empowered Buehler to restrict activities outside of cities and towns, except for on federal lands that make up much of Utah. The U.S. Forest Service says it isn’t prohibiting shooting. The Bureau of Land Management didn’t respond Tuesday.

Gun-rights groups have raised objections to any blanket ban and have questioned whether stray bullets can really ignite a fire. They also say the 21 fires blamed on bullets are a tiny fraction of Utah’s 486 wildfires this year.

To view the official order restricting firearm use, <a target=”_blank” href=”http://publicsafety.utah.gov/firemarshal/documents/stateforesterrestrict7-10-12.pdf”>click here</a>.

Utah’s most active fires are burning on national forest lands, one of them started by sparks from an all-terrain vehicle:

– In Kane County, the ATV-sparked 8,000-acre Shingle Fire was 90 percent contained. Evacuation orders remained in effect for owners of cabins and summer homes on private land inside Dixie National Forest.

– In Carbon County, state Route 31 has been reopened after being closed for two weeks because of a wildfire followed by mudslides and fallen trees. The Seeley fire was 76 percent contained after burning 76 square miles inside the Manti-LaSal National Forest, about 20 miles west of Price.

The reopening of Route 31, which climbs the Wasatch plateau between Huntington and Fairview, saves workers at two coal mines a 2 1/2-hour detour, Seeley fire spokeswoman Marian Swinney said.

Hot spots remain and the small town of Clear Creek is still under mandatory evacuation, she said.

– In Millard and Juab counties, Utah’s largest blaze retreated to the interior of 179 square miles of blackened terrain in Fishlake National Forest. Federal officials announced Tuesday they were returning control of the Clay Springs fire to local authorities. It was 94 percent contained and cost nearly $6.5 million to fight over the past 12 days.

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