Shooting restrictions affect Tahoe region, gun safety urged
The Carson Ranger District recently issued a shooting restriction on its lands due to multiple wildfires in western Nevada that burned approximately 500 acres between May and June. And while the fires are still under investigation, there have been indications that someone taking target practice was the culprit.
The Carson Ranger District covers thousands of acres of land, including the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and stretches from Markleeville in California to north of Reno in Nevada.
“We have a lot of problems with people not picking up their brass afterward,” said Erica Hupp, public affairs officer at Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. “People have also used trees as targets and brought out sofas and TVs. We have the restriction in place, but our big push has been for people to [shoot] safely and responsibly.”
According to Hupp, the restriction will be enforced through September or until conditions improve. Hunting is allowed, however, if the proper permits and areas are being used during designated seasons.
With all of this going on so close to Lake Tahoe, anyone looking to fire off some rounds will need to review where to go and what rules to follow. According to South Tahoe Police Department, discharging a firearm in certain areas is not permitted.
“You can’t shoot within the city limits,” said Lt. Shannon Laney, public information officer at SLTPD. “You can go to Douglas County and Carson City. They have ranges there.”
Gardnerville has a range and may be the closest to those in South Lake looking to get some outdoor target practice. The Douglas County shooting range is located at 875 Dump Road in Gardnerville.
If you’re in Carson City, the Carson Rifle and Pistol Range has some facilities, and they are not affected by the shooting ban. “The Carson range is still open and it’s the only place [in Carson City] you’re legally allowed to shoot,” said Randall Brooks, range administrator at Carson Rifle and Pistol Range. “Anything in the Carson Ranger District, which includes Toiyabe National Forest that goes into Lake Tahoe, target shooting is prohibited.”
There are a couple spots in the Truckee area that provide some open outdoor shooting.
“There’s a place called Boca and they have a range out there,” said Paul Purchard, of Truckee Tahoe Firearms. “It’s by the Boca Reservoir, off of Highway 80. It’s not manned, so there aren’t any fees or anything like that.”
According to Purchard, the closest indoor range is in Reno.
The U.S. Forest Service does have general guidelines for shooting on USFS land. As indicated by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, shooting is allowed on USFS land as long as proper safety guidelines are followed and there aren’t local or state ordinances that prevent shooting. They recommend firearms not to be discharged within 150 yards of a structure, occupied area, within or into a cave, or across a road or body of water. It is also suggested that any area used for target practice has a backstop that can absorb rounds and not deflect debris.
Aside from just the shooting, keeping an area safe and clean can be a challenge if it’s unsupervised.
“We sometimes get a concentration of people in one area shooting and trash accumulates or people take things out to shoot and leave it,” said Michael Woodbridge, public affairs officer for Tahoe National Forest. “I think the local gun club here helps keep the Boca shooting area clean and tries to manage it.”
Woodbridge also said if anyone does go target shooting, a tree isn’t a good target.
“If you shoot a tree or something like that, that’s resource damage,” he said. “People just need to be aware so they don’t get a citation.”
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