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Target shooting in Utah governor's cross hairs

Published July 3, 2012 3:03 pm

Fires • State forester to work with counties on where to ban the practice.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gov. Gary Herbert is taking aim at target shooting.

Citing severe fire danger, the Republican governor announced Monday that the common practice throughout Utah will be limited.

Exactly where has yet to be determined.

Herbert emerged from a meeting with Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, and House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, to say the trio had determined the governor, through the state forester, could limit shooting in unincorporated areas.

"This does not abridge anybody's constitutional right to bear firearms," Herbert said. "But we're facing a serious fire season, and the state forester has the authority to limit [shooting] in unincorporated areas."

State Forester Dick Buehler will begin working immediately with counties to determine where shooting will be permissible and where it will be banned, Herbert said. If counties don't provide input, Buehler will make the decision on his own.

The governor said such discussions already have begun, but he would give no timetable when all those areas statewide would be identified.

Buehler said wildfire conditions in Utah are at extreme levels with high temperatures, dry fuels and low humidity.

"Please remember fires can start extremely easy," he said. "Make sure you have an exit plan."

Already this year, Utah has had 400-plus wildfires — more than a dozen linked to discharging firearms.

The state has been awarded four grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for firefighting efforts. Those grants provide 75 percent of the costs for battling individual blazes.

"Most of the fires are caused by foolish behavior," Herbert said. "Anyone who starts a fire will be held liable."

On June 23, Herbert banned all fireworks outside cities. Many municipalities have enacted their own restrictions.

csmart@sltrib.com