Messes multiplying on local BLM land
EAGLE COUNTY — Yeah, this land is your land, this land is my land, but stop making such a mess on our land.
A local outfitter and guide company ushered in spring the way they always do — cleaning up makeshift shooting ranges and the trash left behind on BLM land by people who refuse to pick up after themselves.
The Sage Outdoor Adventure crew bagged up as much as they could last week. They hauled six pickup loads to the dump, and they could haul more because someone is always leaving a shot-to-pieces mess behind.
“There must be 30,000 shotgun shells up there,” said Darryl Bangert with Sage Outdoor Adventures. “There is glass everywhere, and all kinds of shrapnel where people shoot metal things like car and truck rims. It’s a mess. It’s always a mess.”
Along with the shotgun shells, shell casings, glass and so much else, shooters blast away at things like refrigerators and microwave ovens, and leave the trash behind when they leave.
The Sage crew even found dead deer — a doe and a fawn — shot to death in a ravine and left to rot.
The illicit shooting ranges are only getting worse and more numerous, Bangert said.
“This is not going to stop. It’s only going to get worse,” he said.
There are at least four of these illicit dumps in the Horse Mountain Ranch area north of Wolcott, with more junk being dumped all of the time, Bangert said.
“When one gets filled up, they move up the road and create another,” he said. “This is not going to stop. It’s only going to get worse.”
One site is a half mile from a couple of residences north of Wolcott. Bangert said he has watched shooters line up bottles and blast away with rifles in the direction of those houses.
David Boyd is a public affairs specialist with the BLM’s Silt office, and if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that this is not the only place this happens.
A lot of BLM land is next to communities, so we have a lot of urban interface. Sometimes it’s associated with shooting. Sometimes it’s just people dumping things, Boyd said.
“The norm is that BLM land is open to shooting, but not to littering,” Boyd said. “In most areas, it’s legal to target shoot, with the exception of developed areas such as campgrounds and communities.”
Many people go target shooting, clean up everything and you never know they were there, Boyd said.
They get help from groups that adopt areas. Off-road vehicle organizations are quick to step up, for example, he said.
Not yard waste either
People who would never think of dumping trash will sometimes dump yard waste on BLM land, especially if they see a pile of grass already there.
“They think that it’s grass and brush and it’s biodegradable, so it’s fine,” Boyd said.
“It’s weeds and things that are not native and should not be there,” Boyd said.
Walk your dog, ride your bike, shoot and enjoy your public land. But be responsible, he said.
“We’re fortunate in western Colorado that we have so much public land that’s so accessible,” Boyd said. “We know of several problem areas, but if you see something that looks new, please report it.”
If you see people illegally dumping, call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, 970-328-8505, or the BLM’s regional office, 970-876-9000.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.