Use of tracer bullets blamed for two fires started Sunday on the Pawnee National Grassland

Greeley, Colo. - Two fires started on the Pawnee National Grassland within an hour Sunday are believed to have been started by recreational shooters using illegal tracer bullets.

The Coal 2 Fire burned approximately 62 acres of the grassland. The second fire, which started within an hour of the first, burned just over one acre on private land.

Tracer bullets are a variety of incendiary, military ammunition that burn brightly as they travel through the air, making them visible to the naked eye. They are illegal under the Federal Code of Regulations 36CFR 261-5B.

Reghan Cloudman, a spokesman for the grassland, promised that those responsible for firing the tracer rounds and starting the fires will be cited. Violations of the law carry fines ranging from $525 to $5,000 and include a mandatory Federal Magistrate Court appearance.

Cloudman also provided this list of the rules and regulations for shooting on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland:

  • Only shoot at cardboard/paper targets, manufactured metallic targets, or manufactured thrown-type clay targets. (Anything else, including exploding targets, is illegal.)
  • Shoot further than 150 yards from a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area. (This includes the Pawnee Bird Tour pull outs.)
  • Do not shoot across or on a National Forest System Road or adjacent body of water.
  • Do not shoot in any manner or place where any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge.
  • Do not possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while discharging a fire arm.
  • The area located in Township 8N, Range 63W, Section 7 is closed to recreational shooting for one-quarter mile south of Weld County Road 96 and one-quarter mile west of County Road 63.
  • The area along County Road 61 is also closed to recreational shooting due to the lack of safe backstops.
  • Review and respect all signs on the PNG. They can help keep you from breaking the regulations noted above.
  • Visitors are asked to avoid congestion and safely disperse from other users and to only use the approved targets with a safe backstop. A safe backstop is one that can stop a bullet.
  • Clean up your targets and do not attach targets to trees, fences, water tanks, windmills or other improvements.
  • Be aware of livestock and other grassland visitors when shooting; keep your distance.
  • More recreational shooting information is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/targetshooting. Regulations for other activities can be found on the web at www.fs.usda.gov/arp or call visitor information services at 970-346-5000.
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