Ritter Takes Aim at a Real, Live Issue

While Bob Beauprez is busy dodging the bullets that have been shooting out of his own mouth – most recently his thoughts on abortion among African American women – an actual issue has emerged in the race for Colorado governor.

Not a soundbite, not a vague position paper – but a real live issue.This week, Democrat Bill Ritter called for state and federal officials to hammer out a “balanced solution” between people who like to shoot their guns in the forest, and everyone else, including hikers, bikers, campers and fishermen. The troubles – from designated gun areas being trashed, to reports of human near-misses – have been well-documented, particularly in areas of the state where urbanization is creeping into the wild.

“Many areas in close proximity to the Front Range have visible signs of abuse from shooting, such as trees that have been shot down,” reports the U.S. Forest Service. “Leaving litter and damaging vegetation are violations of other federal regulations. Some of these close-in areas have much unsafe, indiscriminate shooting, as well as much intermingled private land and houses.”

The South Rampart Range Shooting Area, west of Colorado Springs, is one area that has been trashed. The Forest Service spends about $8,000 to $10,000 every year trying to clean up the area, which is littered with everything from old refrigerators to spent bullets. On June 6, the Denver Post reported similar problems in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest near Boulder.

“Over the past few years, several forest gun ranges have been shut down as new homes are built closer and closer to previously isolated ranges,” notes the Ritter campaign. “Outdoor firearms enthusiasts now practice their skills in what’s known as a ‘dispersed use’ on U.S. Forest Service land. Under current regulations, shooters must remain 150 yards away from other people.

“But as all types of recreational uses

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