FARMINGTON -- Target shooters can now legally return to the hills for target practice, but Davis County elected leaders would prefer they wait until at least Sept. 21.
That's the date Davis County's agreement with the Wasatch Shooters Association to make its gun club available to the public at no charge expires. The county approved a $10,001 contract with the gun club to open its shooting range to the public during the summer months.
The Davis County Commission and Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson wanted to make the gun range available to target shooters in hopes of curbing the potential for wildfires in the extremely dry conditions.
The gun range is on unincorporated county property near Fruit Heights.
Fire restrictions have been lifted as of Sept. 7 on all Bureau of Land Management, state and unincorporated private lands by order of the Utah Division of Forestry.
Before the public takes to the mountains to get in last-minute target practice before the fall hunts begin, county officials are urging the public to shoot at the Wasatch Shooters Range.
The county, when it comes to fire danger, is "not out of the woods yet," but it certainly is better off now than it was weeks ago, Davis County Fire Marshal Ellis Bruch said.
Humidity levels are higher and temperatures cooler, he said.
Bruch said it's his opinion that offering shooters a safe place to target practice minimized the county's fire danger by guns by 100 percent.
"Once the (restriction) order was put in place, we didn't have a single fire started by gunfire," he said.
This summer the county had two wildfires started by gunfire before the restriction order went into effect, Bruch said, versus having five wildfires started by gunfire last year when there were no restrictions.
"This is the first year we have ever had restrictions in place (all summer long) for target shooting," he said.
Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. agreed that fire restrictions and opening up the gun range to the public has helped keep wildfires down in Davis County.
"I think it has been effective," he said.
People still have to go through their respective fire departments for agricultural or debris burning permits through Oct. 31, Bruch said.
While the state fire restriction on target shooting is rescinded, the BLM still has a temporary shooting restriction in place on about 900 acres of land west of Utah Lake.
"The danger isn't gone and fire season isn't over yet. We still need to use good, safe campfire practices, and everyone needs to be careful doing anything that might lead to wildfire," said state Forester Dick Buehler.
For more information on fire prevention or fire restrictions visit www.utahfireinfo.gov.