Negligence in Boulder County by U.S. Dept. of Forestry
Negligence is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “Failure to exercise the degree of care considered reasonable under the circumstances, resulting in unintended consequences to another party.”
In the last 6 months there have been three forest fires started at the unofficial shooting range on National Forest lands in Left Hand Canyon. This “range” is within a mile of many homes and every fire results in closure of an important road to those here. Boulder County and the U.S. Government have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting these fires and local property owners have had their lives disrupted due to costly evacuations, yards burned, farm animals and pets put at risk, as well as their homes and sometimes lives threatened. The fire crews have worked incredible hours and have put their lives at risk every time. Must we wait until a firefighter dies trying to defend us to take action?
In a year when government budgets are being cut, over half a million dollars were spent fighting the Left Hand Fire in the same location in March, yet the U.S. Forest Service has done virtually nothing. If money were spent relocating them to a safe range area where stray rounds would not start fires and threaten hikers (as the current unofficial range does), we could eliminate this problem. Some of the funds used to fight fires could even be used to make a new “range” area safe at a far lower cost than quarterly fires. Until that happens, the forest service could, at least, ban shooting near mountain residential areas so as not to threaten residents.
The county has stringent rules on noise and light pollution as well as hunting, yet the constant chatter of automatic weapons ringing from the canyon never stops, the peaceful country life desired by those living in the county is shattered every day by automatic weapons fire. And every week we wonder when the next fire will start and whose lives will be threatened. This county has already lost nearly 200 houses due to forest fires; how many does it take? Since the U.S. Dept. of Forestry won’t act, why is Boulder County not challenging/suing the federal Government to shut down or move this unnecessary, hazardous site? Why is the Daily Camera not investigating this negligence? Why are the local news stations not doing a story on government negligence and waste–think of the money wasted due to this single firing range. Couldn’t our tax dollars be better spent?
Having served over 20 years the U.S. Army I am biased in favor of the Government and the constitutional right to bear arms (not automatic weapons); but we depend on government to maintain a balance between those rights and safety on “public” lands. The U.S. Forest Service is failing in that responsibility and our local government is doing little to protect us from their continued negligence. That said, three cheers for our local sheriff’s department, our mitigation crews, firefighters and those slurry bomber pilots!
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, Ret.
Boulder County resident