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California: Comments Needed to Keep Forest Area Open to Shooters

Thursday, March 8, 2012

For over 50 years, the Candy Rock Quarry in the Stanislaus National Forest has been open for recreational shooting.  The quarry is located in Calaveras County, near the towns of Hathaway Pines and Avery.  The quarry is one of the locations in the Forest’s Calaveras Ranger District that is actively used by recreationists for target shooting.  In recent years, residential development has occurred not far from the Forest boundary and has brought with it homeowner complaints of sound and safety concerns, sufficient that the Forest Service is being pressed to close the quarry to shooting.  This is in spite of the fact that shooting has occurred at the quarry with no documented incidents of vandalism, fires, property damage or injury (with the exemption of one self-inflicted gunshot wound in a half century). 

The Forest Service recently issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to address whether recreational shooting is an appropriate activity at Candy Rock Quarry in the context of safety, public health, and applicable law and if it is, determine the conditions under which shooting may continue.  One of the management responses under consideration is the Proposed Action, which would keep the area open to shooting but with restrictions on shooting hours, a prohibition on trap and skeet shooting, and the use of firearms larger than .50 caliber.  The other management possibilities highlighted in the Notice of Intent are: No Action, No Shooting, and Continue Current Management. 

The Notice of Intent can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=37952.  Public comment is being accepted until April 13 and can be emailed to: comments-pacificsouthwest-stanislaus@fs.fed.us with the subject like “Candy Rock.”  For further information, please contact Sara Friberg with the Stanislaus National Forest at 209-532-3671 ext. 475 or e-mail at sfriberg@fs.fed.us.

When the comment period closes, the Forest Service will evaluate the comments received and develop an EIS which will be released for public comment.  This “Scoping Stage” is a very important first step for public participation.

One of the biggest threats to recreational shooting on federal public land is private development encroaching along the boundary lines and bringing with it pressure to close long-standing use by shooters of federal land, like Candy Rock Quarry, regardless of the safety record of shooters using the site and how well the area is respected and maintained.  Without strong support for keeping the quarry opened, the Forest Service may choose the option of No Shooting and close the quarry forever.  Please take a few minutes to send the Forest Service a note of support and if you are a shooter who uses the quarry, please take some extra time to send in substantive comments based on your personal use of the site.

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