Important Notice: A virtual public hearing is scheduled for Monday, 1/11 at 3 pm, on a resolution to limit the discharge of firearms and to temporarily close a portion of the Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest (ARNF) to recreation sport shooting near Crystal Lakes. The proposed resolution is intended to address the immediate public safety issues while still allowing for the RSS Project and adaptive management strategy to be implemented and/or public shooting range to open as outlined in the RSS Project decision. The resolution is also intended to be temporary (end on 12/31 unless extended) and maintains the responsibility for RSS management with the USFS jurisdiction. Lawful hunting is exempt.
The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland are proposing management of recreational sport shooting (RSS) on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. RSS is a longtime and legitimate activity on the Forests; however, the 1997 Forest Plan does not contain any direction for managing these activities. Colorado's population is growing rapidly and more than 80 percent of this population growth is occurring along the Front Range. The mixing of RSS activities on National Forest System lands in close proximity to residences and other high-use public areas is causing safety concerns. The Forests partnered with Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Clear Creek County, Gilpin County, Boulder County and Larimer County to develop a landscape-level, multi-jurisdictional strategy to provide safe, responsible, and accessible RSS opportunities while addressing conflicts near residential areas and with other forest visitors across the northern Colorado Front Range. This project will not affect lawful hunting with firearms in areas where it is currently allowed.
In June 2019, the Forest signed a decision for the Recreational Sport Shooting Project. Documents and an interactive map showing areas identified as “not suitable” for shooting are available online. To read the final decision and maps, click on the “decision” tab towards the bottom of the page. It is important to note that closures are contingent on the development of public shooting ranges as a place for displaced shooters to go. Counties and the Forest Service are in the process of developing ranges. An update on the progress of these ranges was recently posted on the Northern Front Range Recreational Sport Shooting Partnership website.
We want to remind property owners that if there is an emergency, call 911. But, if it does not reach that level of danger, you can always call the Sheriff’s non-emergency number at 970-416-1985. If you have information related to recreational sport shooting you want to share with the Forest Service, please email ARPRecShooting@usda.gov.
A site visit was held on November 5, 2020 to discuss the illegal and unsafe recreational sport shooting near the Crystal Lakes subdivision. The participants included Commissioner Kefalas and representatives from USFS, LCSO, CPW, DNR, and CLRRA. Two areas near Crystal Lakes have been identified as unsuitable for dispersed recreational sport shooting in the USFS Final Decision Notice (June 2019). The first area is North of Deadman Road to South of Filings 9 and 14. The second area is North of Filing 9 on Tiny Bob Road to South of Filing 7.
We summarized the takeaways from the site visit in an email to all property owners on 11/6/2020. At our recent meeting, the Board agreed to send a letter from Crystal Lakes to the Forest Supervisor requesting an immediate closure of the unsafe recreational sport shooting areas in Northern Larimer County and the two areas close to Crystal Lakes. Additionally, we plan to follow up with the District Ranger on several issues regarding the Tiny Bob Road and Deadman Road areas.
We want to personally thank Commissioner Kefalas for his leadership on this issue. He scheduled a meeting with LCSO and DNR on 11/30/2020 to discuss the enforcement issue and a cooperative law enforcement agreement between USFS and LCSO as a potential option. He also reiterated that before the Commissioners can consider a county initiated emergency closure option, they need to figure out the enforcement part of this complex equation.
In responding to some of the negativity from a few property owners, Commissioner Kefalas recently said, “It would be helpful to this process if we received some acknowledgement of the actions that have been and will be taken.” We believe in the Proverb that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It is easier to persuade others with polite requests and a positive attitude rather than with rude demands and negativity. We have had several positive conversations with property owners in the 7th, 9th, and 14th filings and together, we are making progress on this issue. To the few property owners who insist on being negative we suggest you let bygones be bygones, stop worrying about the past, be part of the solution, be polite, and be positive.
Bryon Fessler, CLRRA President
I want to take this opportunity again to thank the property owners in the lower filings who carried the torch these past years and continued to push for an emergency closure with the USFS and the County Commissioners. This is a team effort that is really starting to pay dividends. The Association has been involved in this issue off and on since 2017. Thanks to the work of the property owners and the Board, we now have a clearer platform to work from and a better seat at the table. As recently as August 19, 2020, I participated in a work session on behalf of the Association with the Commissioners to discuss an emergency closure. The Commissioners are consulting with the County Attorney to see if they have the legal authority to institute an emergency ban. There is a question regarding who would be responsible for enforcement if the Commissioners were to enact such a ban.
USFS stated that they too have the power to institute an emergency ban but that they were reluctant to do so preferring instead to follow the current process, which has taken nearly five
years to date. That process is called the Northern Front Range Recreational Sport Shooting Management Partnership, or NFRRSSP, and the goal is to develop a landscape-level,
multi-jurisdictional strategy to provide safe, responsible and accessible recreational sport shooting
opportunities while addressing conflicts near residential areas and with other recreation users across the northern Colorado Front Range. USFS and CPW are involved in the process along with the Commissioners from Larimer, Boulder, Clear Creek, and Gilpin counties.
These agencies and counties are committed to providing alternative sport shooting areas before USFS closes the unsafe shooting areas along the front range, including near Crystal Lakes. That is why, despite repeated requests from property owners and the Board, an emergency closure has yet to be implemented. The Association does not have an issue with the goal of the NFRRSSMP; however, we cannot wait any longer as it is only a matter of time before one of our property owners are seriously injured or killed. There is precedent for USFS and/or individual counties to close illegal and unsafe shooting areas and we will continue to push for an emergency closure. We are working to educate everyone involved and the next step is a site visit with all the players on November 5, 2020.
So that I can better carry your voice with me, I am asking any property owners in the lower filings who would like to talk to me about how we can continue to move forward and make progress on this subject to contact me at email@example.com. All I ask is that the conversations remain positive and constructive and that we continue to work as a team.
A site visit with all the players is scheduled for early November. The visit was originally scheduled for September and then rescheduled to October and then November as a result of the Cameron Peak Fire. The players include Commissioner Kefalas and representatives from USFS, LCSO, DNR, and the Association (President and Manager). The plan is to visit locations along Deadman Road and Tiny Bob Road to discuss the shooting safety concerns for these areas. Additionally, at the Association's suggestion, USFS has recently installed educational signs for these areas. These areas are currently closed to recreational access as a result of the fire closure orders.
The CLRRA President participated in a work session with the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on August 19, 2020 to discuss the emergency closure for recreational sport shooting around the lower filings of the Crystal Lakes subdivision. The illegal shooting has precipitously intensified in recent years to a point where it now jeopardizes the safety of our property owners who have reported bullets passing by their heads or lodged in their homes. The BOCC is consulting with the County Attorney to see if they have the legal authority to institute an emergency ban. There is a question regarding enforcement if the BOCC were to enact such a ban. USFS stated that they too have the power to institute an emergency ban but that they were reluctant to do so preferring to follow the current process, which has taken nearly five years to date. The next step is a site visit with all of the players in early September, depending on the Cameron Peak fire.