On Feb. 17 two fires were started on the Pawnee National Grassland by recreational shooters using illegal tracer bullets.

The Coal 2 Fire burned approximately 62 acres of the Pawnee National Grassland. A second fire was reported within an hour of the first. That fire burned just over one acre on private land. Those responsible for starting these fires will be cited.

Tracer bullets and other incendiary ammunition are illegal under the Federal Code of Regulations (36CFR 261-5B). This violation carries a $525 to $5,000 fine and can include a mandatory Federal Magistrate Court appearance.

The mild weather has caused an increase in the number of recreational shooters on the Pawnee National Grassland. On the day of these fires, more than 75 shooters were contacted by U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement. It is important for those heading the Pawnee National Grassland to shoot understand the rules and regulations related to this activity. The land ownership pattern in the area is very fragmented, so ensuring you are on Federal land is also imperative.

As a reminder, here are shooting rules and regulations on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland:

• Only shoot at cardboard/paper targets, manufactured metallic targets or manufactured thrown-type clay targets. (Anything else, including exploding targets, is illegal.)
Shoot further than 150 yards from a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area. (This includes the Pawnee Bird Tour pull outs.)
• Do not shoot across or on a National Forest System Road or adjacent body of water.
• Do not shoot in any manner or place where any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge.
• Do not possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while discharging a firearm.

Review and respect all signs on the PNG. They can help keep you from breaking the regulations noted above. Visitors are asked to avoid congestion and safely disperse from other users and to only use the approved targets with a safe backstop. A safe backstop is one that can stop a bullet. Clean up your targets and do not attach targets to trees, fences, water tanks, windmills or other improvements. Be aware of livestock and other grassland visitors when shooting; keep your distance. Recreational shooting information is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/targetshooting. Regulations for other activities can be found on the web at www.fs.usda.gov/arpor call visitor information services at 970-346-5000.

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