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Shooting sports, nonprofit organizations team up on tips to help shooters minimize impact on environment

May 11, 2010 |  1:15 pm

Sign along Alaska's Seward Highway. The nonprofit organization Tread Lightly! has partnered with some of the nation’s most influential shooting sports organizations to come up with nine tips to help shooters minimize their impact on the environment.

The tips are part of a recent "Respected Access is Open Access" public awareness campaign, developed to help shooters and hunters keep their access to public and private land open by encouraging proper environmental and social behaviors.   

"The message of the campaign is simple -- responsible behavior leads to continued access," said Lori McCullough, executive director of Tread Lightly. "Outdoor opportunities in America are dwindling at a rate so serious it demands our immediate action.  Damage caused by a few uninformed or uncaring recreationists is contributing to the loss of access for everyone.  This campaign will help change that."

Funding has come through grants from Yamaha Motor Corp.'s OHV Access Initiative, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International, National Wild Turkey Federation, Boone and Crockett Club, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Here are the nine tips:

1. Target-shoot only on lands open to shooting. 

2. Use only appropriate targets.  Shooting at trees and other natural objects is illegal and leaves a negative image about shooters. 

3. Only shoot where there is a good backstop to stop your bullets. 

4.  Shooting at signs, kiosks, trash containers, buildings and other property is vandalism and illegal.

5. Be sure to pack out your trash including food wrappings, shotgun shells, brass or steel cases, fragmented clay pigeons, and other targets.  Be a thoughtful shooter and pick up litter and target trash left by others.

6. Do not shoot household appliances or other objects dumped in shooting areas.  It is misconstrued that shooters are the dumpers.

7. Shooting across roads, trails, waterways or into caves or rocky areas is unsafe.  Be sure you see your target clearly and you know what lies between you, the target, and beyond.  Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

8. Shoot away from developed recreation sites such as campgrounds, trailheads, parking areas and boat ramps. 

9. Travel on designated routes.  Avoid traveling in sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams. 

The Tread Lightly! program goal is to balance the needs of the people who enjoy outdoor recreation with the need to maintain a healthy environment. 

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Sign along Alaska's Seward Highway. Credit: Enrique Giraldo