I’ve been working at the Eastern Divide Ranger District since early March, and I’ve seen and done a lot of really cool things. Hiking the Cascades Recreation Area, supporting a prescribed burn, and getting to shock and tag eels in a creek are some of my personal favorites. Sadly, on the opposite side, you also get to see how the public really treats their public lands and free areas on the forest. Vandalism, massive trash dump piles, and a blatant disregard for the wildlife, just to name a few.
The worst example I have seen of abuse to public lands so far is the Free Shooting Range on my district. I have visited this range before on my off time and it is a nice place for practicing target shooting. But while I was there I noticed that no one picks up their brass after shooting, people leave garbage everywhere, and leave their targets sitting downrange to become someone else’s problem. The shotgun range is littered with spent shells just lying all over the range, with a 30-foot wide trash pit at the center of it filled with broken clay pigeons and plastic. If you step in it you will sink a foot into it. The brass littering the rifle range is rusted and staining the ground. The trash piles left over from previous shooters have been blown by the wind to make a trash wall a few feet high on either side of the range. The Forest Service, at on my district, just doesn’t have enough full time people to tackle this problem.
With the range looking the way it does, I have decided that as an avid shooter, my Community Action Project will be to clean up this shooting range. I fully plan on getting volunteers, hopefully others in the shooting community, to help me with this project. Cleaning up, repairing, and putting up new signs warning for the fines of littering I think may help. I’m hopeful that cleaning this now will teach people who shoot there regularly to clean it more often and respect the things public lands programs do for you, especially the free ones.
The Forest Service’s motto is “Caring for the land and serving people.” I’m hoping that by cleaning up the land, by default, I’m also caring for the people. I’m also told that the trash at the range is starting to fall down the hillside into a creek, which is not good at all for any wildlife around the area. So I hope that by cleaning this up I am also helping the wildlife and restoring their habitat. I will be starting my project in a few months after I have enough volunteers and supplies. I am hoping when it is finished I will have made a difference to someone or the something.