Forest Service bans exploding targets in Rocky Mountain region

Exploding targets have been banned in the Rocky Mountain Forest Service region, officials announced Monday.

The targets are being blamed for at least three recent fires in Colorado including the 1045-acre Springer Fire in Park County in June 2012.

"Exploding targets are a documented cause of wildfires, and have been associated with at least five wildfires on National Forest System lands since 2012, resulting in more than 15,600 acres burned and approximately $30 million in suppression costs," said Sarah Levy, Forest Service spokeswoman for the Pacific Northwest Region in Portland in an earlier media release announcing a ban on the devices. Pacific Northwest Region officials banned all exploding targets year-round from national forest lands in Washington and Oregon last month.

The devices are sometimes referred to as “binary exploding targets”, since they are completely inert until two powders are mixed by the target shooter. After the powders are combined, the compound is illegal to transport and is classified as an explosive by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

"The Forest Service is working to clarify and better define existing regulations that impact the use of exploding targets on national forest system lands," said Larry Chambers, Forest Service media relations officer in Washington, D.C. last month.

It might be several weeks before agency officials react on a national basis, he said at the time.

The Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service includes parts Wyoming, Colorado, parts of Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.