The fear of wildfires has prompted the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to place a temporary ban on all target shooting on 3 million acres of DNR-managed lands. This includes state forests, community forests, and forested state lands.
Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, said in a statement, “I know this is an inconvenience to our recreational shooters, but current conditions require us to take reasonable steps to reduce wildfire risk,” adding, “within days we expect to surpass the average number of wildfires that my crews normally respond to within an entire wildfire season. Resources are stretched and we must all do our part to protect our communities and our firefighters.”
Shooting at targets poses a greater risk in dry conditions as bullets pass through decayed wood, cause sparks off rocks, or break into fragments in dry grass. This temporary rule does not restrict hunting, as firearms are discharged less frequently.
Washington is extremely hot and dry, with ninety-six percent of the state in drought-like conditions. Vegetation is very dry and getting drier.
On average, DNR responds to 22 wildfires on DNR-managed lands each year caused by shooting – that includes illegal explosive targets and target practice.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is also restricting shooting on WDFW-managed lands beginning Saturday.
Commissioner Franz is encouraging private landowners to consider target shooting restrictions on their own lands.