SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) — Dry and hot conditions caused the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to temporarily close 17 of its wildlife management areas (WMAs) in central and northern Utah to recreational shooting of firearms, due to wildfire concerns.
Burned remains of forest at Henefer/Echo WMA
2016 Road Shed fire at Henefer/Echo WMA, caused by target shooting.
Utah Fire Info reported that, as of Aug. 5, 712 wildfires in Utah had been caused by people, which is 333 more than in 2019 and 202 more than in 2018 at this same time in the summer wildfire season. So far this season, 28 wildfires have been caused by target shooting, costing nearly $1 million to taxpayers.
Wildfires destroy essential wildlife habitat, and wildlife management areas are vital to providing important wintering ranges for many wildlife species, including big game. A lot of resources go toward improving habitat in these wildlife and waterfowl management areas, which is why it is important to take measures to prevent wildfires.
The temporary restriction comes less than one week after people who were target shooting at the Richmond WMA in Cache County — shooting a .50-caliber rifle at a metal target — ignited a fire that burned 2 acres of wildlife habitat. A bullet ricochet was also the likely cause of the 438-acre Big Hollow Fire that burned near Heber City in mid-July, according to officials investigating the incident. The Big Hollow Fire burned several hundred acres of DWR's Wallsburg WMA.
"With the dry conditions, any spark can start a fire," Scott Walker, DWR northern region habitat manager said. "With firearm target shooting, sparks from metal targets aren't the only threat — a bullet or other projectile glancing off a rock is all it takes to cause a spark and a fire. Let's all do our part to prevent wildfires and to protect wildlife."
Fireworks and explosives are never allowed on any WMA, and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands has also restricted open fires of any kind on state lands, except within the facilities designated for them in improved campgrounds, picnic areas or home sites where running water is present. DWR's WMAs do not have any established campgrounds or fire pits, so campfires aren't currently allowed on any WMAs.
Effective immediately and until fire conditions improve, target shooting with firearms is not allowed anywhere on the following WMAs:
Box Elder County
Brigham Face WMA
Millville / Providence WMA
East Canyon WMA
White Hill WMA
Black Hill WMA
Six Mile WMA
Twelve Mile WMA
Henefer / Echo WMA
Dairy Fork WMA
Lassen Draw WMA
Spencer Fork WMA
Middle Fork WMA
DWR conservation officers will be enforcing the temporary restrictions at these WMAs. Visitors to the areas are encouraged to keep their eyes open and report any campfires or any firearm target shooting to the UTIP hotline at 1-800-662-DEER (3336).
The campfire and firearm target shooting restrictions are temporary, and the impacts the activities have on WMAs will be evaluated throughout the fire season. Find more wildfire prevention tips on the Utah Fire Info website.
During the temporary closures, Utahns still have plenty of options available for target shooting. DWR has two public shooting ranges, and there are a variety of public and private indoor and outdoor shooting ranges throughout Utah.
If you have questions or need more information, please call the DWR's Northern Region office at 801-476-2740 or the Central Region Office at 801-491-5678.