County May Restrict Shooting at Snake River Canyon Park

Stop the Shooting?
2012-03-22T02:15:00Z 2012-03-22T14:01:42Z County May Restrict Shooting at Snake River Canyon ParkBy Steve Kadel - Twin Falls Times-News

JEROME • Dave Guymon and his son, Nate, like to ride their ATVs at the Snake River Canyon Park at least once a week.

They were there Tuesday afternoon, spinning circles in the mud and roaring over rises as Jet, their black Lab, occasionally sprinted in pursuit. Even with the roar of engines, nearby gunshots were audible.

The popular park just east of U.S. Highway 93, on the north rim of the Snake River Canyon, is a prime spot for shooters to practice. But their continued use of the area is jeopardized by litter they leave and safety concerns for other park users. Officials are weighing options including banning shooting.

“They shoot wherever they want and they don’t pack out their garbage,” Jerome County Commission Chairman Charlie Howell said Wednesday as he toured the site.

One popular diversion is to bring broken televisions to the park and use them for target practice, leaving the debris there, he said. He sometimes rides a horse through the maze of trails and knows firsthand about the potential danger.

“It’s always nerve-wracking when you hear those bullets whistle over your head,” he said.

As if to illustrate the point, rounds from an unseen shooter whizzed through the air as Howell spoke.

Seemingly, there’s enough room for everyone to recreate safely. The park includes 6,500 acres owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and 700 acres under Idaho Department of Lands control.

Howell said the county has a management agreement with the BLM, but not with the Department of Lands. Talks between the county and state aimed at establishing enforcement policies for the problems haven’t been successful.

Jerome County commissioners hope to hold public hearings during the next two months to see what kind of crackdown, if any, citizens favor. Sheriff Doug McFall’s office is currently researching the cost if deputies began enforcing restrictions in the park.

At this point, Howell emphasized, Jerome County has no authority to enforce any regulations on state-owned property. That’s critical because it’s the closest portion of the park to Twin Falls and Jerome, and is the most heavily used by shooters and ATV and motorcycle riders.

For riders such as the Guymons, ridding the park of litter would be welcome.

“There are couches and all kinds of stuff out here,” said Dave Guymon, 41, of Jerome.

A quick survey of the area where he and 22-year-old Nate were riding turned up a long list of discarded items. There were lots of shotgun shell casings, a prescription bottle, an antifreeze bottle, an empty oil can, cardboard boxes, lengths of rope and hose, soft drink bottles, broken glass, and even a foam cushion apparently from a chair.

While the Guymons emphasize that everyone should be able to use the park, they’re aware that shooters might be practicing anywhere. Some recently took Nate by surprise — he crested a small hill on his ATV just as shooters were firing at the incline below him. He suggested that designating certain areas of the park for different activities might be a safer way to go.

Dave said most shooters don’t litter, pinning that label on just a few careless people.

Tim Yenne, 34, of Jerome, likes to shoot at the park but sides with those who criticize the littering. He was in the park Tuesday, and said he often hauls out garbage left by other people.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Yenne said. “You can have lots of fun out here without bringing out ridiculous stuff like TVs and chairs.”

Still, he opposes any movement to prevent shooting in the park, and said most who do are trying to improve their skills to become safer hunters.

“If they ban it out here, you’ll see lots more shooting where people shouldn’t be — like in the city limits,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Morgan Diaz parked his automobile just beyond the stoplight at Highway 93 and Shoshone Falls Road to shoot his AR-15. The 41-year-old Jerome resident said shooters should be welcome at the park “as long as you are responsible.”

That means cleaning up after a shooting session, said Diaz, who makes a point of picking up shell casings and other items.

“Everybody has a right to the land,” Diaz said, “but if you pack it in, pack it out.”

BLM spokeswoman Heather Tiel-Nelson acknowledged that use of the park “has been an issue for a number of years.” She hopes things can be worked out so everyone can still enjoy their own brand of recreation.

That’s Howell’s goal, too. He believes closing the park to shooting would cause more problems than it solved.

“If you shove them off this land they’re going to go somewhere else,” he said.

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(16) Comments

  1. worriedfuture
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    worriedfuture - March 24, 2012 12:14 am
    For those of you that are saying "I think Charlie Howell should worry about the city of Jerome instead of one little corner of the desert where people have fun."

    You must not be from the Jerome area and are just complaining to stir things up. Charlie Howell is a Jerome County Commissioner and has nothing to do with the City of Jerome. The City is Jerome is run by a Mayor and a Council not the County Commissioners. For heaven sakes get your facts right before running your mouth.

    I agree that he area needs cleaned up. Way too much garbage out then. At least he is trying to do something instead of sitting on his computer posting anonymously. Maybe if everyone that uses the area would pickup two bags of garbage every time they are out there and report those that are dumping trash the area would be cleaned up in a short amount of time. Here is a thought. If you see someone acting irresponsible call in and report it.

    Way to go Commissioner Howell at least you have the stones to try to make it better.

    Steve Landsford
  2. J DOG
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    J DOG - March 22, 2012 11:27 pm
    I say have the work detail crew/people who have to do community service for the sheriffs office go out there and pick up the trash. They could clean it up pretty good. Shooters who do shoot out there if they pack it in they need to pack it out. Also they need to know their target and whats beyond. I shoot over there monthly and have not seen anyone shooting dangerously. Not to say that theres people that dont. I think Charlie Howell should worry about the city of Jerome instead of one little corner of the desert where people have fun.
  3. horse-rider
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    horse-rider - March 22, 2012 11:09 pm
    In response to japroct's comments. I am one of those, as you call it "stupid people" that rides a horse on that worthless land. It is a great place to take a horse and get them to relax, learn to give to pressure, and they learn to pick up their feet and where to place them, plus it gets them outside in a different environment, than just a corral. My family and friends are also some of those "stupid people" that ride horses on the worthless land as you call it. There used to be a group of ladies that rode on Thursdays on this worthless land, but I've been told, that do to the shooting and stray bullets they fear riding out on this worthless land. This worthless land as you call it, is where my Grandfather and Father used to graze cattle, and where I grew up learning the ranching business and how to ride and care for the cattle. I didn't know that there was any worthless land in the Great State of IDAHO. Only land that people want to make worthless. People who haul their garbage and trash out there wanting to make it as you call it "WORTHLESS LAND". It's sad to see the people who don't have any responsibilty. No cares for the private party, (yes there is privately owned property on this so called worthless land) the road signs that are riddled with bullets, the destruction to road equipment and the list goes on. You should think about your comment---This land is not "WORTHLESS LAND". I am not stupid because I ride my horse on this land (neither are the ATV riders)
  4. djmcfall
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    djmcfall - March 22, 2012 9:42 pm
    The Jerome County Commissioners do not want an out-right total ban on shooting. They are looking for solutions to deal with several issues including hazards to the recreation public, cattle men, and other citizens, as well as dealing with the trash and vandalism in the area. I attended the meeting and they are hoping for a balanced solution to allow everyone the freedom to safely enjoy our public lands.
  5. Paladin
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    Paladin - March 22, 2012 8:23 pm
    Why isn't there an option to ban ATVs and motorcycles at the park? The second paragraph of the story seems to suggest that they contribute to both destructive land erosion AND noise pollution. I think it's only fair to put that suggestion on the table as well.
  6. jstimpson
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    jstimpson - March 22, 2012 6:59 pm
    Banning all shooters from using this area because of garbage is akin to banning all drivers from the roads because some people speed. I agree that there needs to be an area set aside for people to shoot so that there is less interaction between ATV users and shooters, but shooters should face no more regulation than ATV users.

    If garbage is the issue, why pass new laws. There is already a law on the books "littering," enforce it. Don't say people can't recreate because other people are illegally dumping old couches and household garbage.

  7. J DOG
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    J DOG - March 22, 2012 4:06 pm
    A shooting range would be nice. I know theres one way out in Jerome in the middle of no where lol. I really don't see a big problem, I go over there a couple times a month to shoot. I have never seen someone shooting in an unsafe direction. Not to say that it doesnt happen. The trash left behind by others is ridiculous, I agree and gives us shooters a bad name. Heres and idea, why doesnt the work detail/people who have to do community service for the sheriffs office go pick up trash out there? Im sure they would do a good clean up job. And Charlie Howell you must be bored to tears and duller than a 50 year old penny to want to ride your horse over there. Why dont you focus more on problems in your city then an outskirts piece of land for atv riders, motorcyclist and avid shooters. To the shooters lets keep this place clean so we can use it, if you pack it in, pack it out. And always know your target and what is beyond.
  8. SKC_ID
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    SKC_ID - March 22, 2012 2:18 pm
    John Pitts idea for building a range is a good one. People who like to shoot should have a place to do that, but those who go there for other reasons shouldn't have to dodge bullets.
    By the way, japroct ..."if you start limiting the use of BLM land, then WE will start target-shooting in town..." That was a very stupid remark.
  9. Native
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    Native - March 22, 2012 1:54 pm
    Hunters should organize a clean up effort to show everyone that not all hunters are pigs.
  10. bluedarter
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    bluedarter - March 22, 2012 10:50 am
    I watched some hillbillies put a refrigerator sized cabinet out there and shoot it up. I even reported their vehicle info and license plate number to the Jerome Sheriff's office, who proceeded to do nothing. If law enforcement won't get involved, then the hillbillies can continue to trash the area at will.
  11. japroct
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    japroct - March 22, 2012 9:13 am
    ...Another idea....
    I have been shooting, and riding motor-bikes over there since I was a kid...(35+yrs), I have NEVER seen someone so stupid as to use this worthless land to go horseback riding...(which I also do, just not there).
    You must have a hidden addenda of some sort...maybe on the line of privatizing the canyon project to build big money housing or restaurants like the South-side did???
    Makes me wonder, hope it makes everyone else do he same...Developers do NOT give a crap about the the community, public safety,security, or anything else, except PERSONAL PROFIT. Remember this, and research why this article was ever written.
  12. Report Abuse
    - March 22, 2012 9:10 am
    John Pitts: The comments are not closed - just taking me a while to moderate the comments. I apologize for the delay.

    Online editor
  13. John Pitts
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    John Pitts - March 22, 2012 9:03 am
    why are comments closed
  14. John Pitts
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    John Pitts - March 22, 2012 9:03 am
    Build a range with a backstop over there. Idaho fishing and hunting licenses should provide plenty of money and that money needs to be spent for something that will benefit shooters for a change.
  15. japroct
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    japroct - March 22, 2012 9:02 am
    ...Just cinch that collar up one more notch, please, Mr. countyman... I really want more of my freedoms taken away.... By the way, if you start limiting the use of BLM land, then WE will start target-shooting in town...
  16. IdahoHeathen
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    IdahoHeathen - March 22, 2012 8:46 am
    Responsible firearm owners know the safest places to go shooting on this land AND we don't leave our trash, targets, and junk behind. There are a handful of irresponsible morons that make all of us look bad. The idiots know who they are and they should be fined and charged 100% of the cost of getting the area cleaned up after their irresponsible misuse of the land. I've taken trunkloads of garbage to the dumpsters (boxes, boards, cans, etc.) that were left behind by OTHER shooters after I've gone out shooting so that people wouldn't think that _I_ left that junk behind. I know others have done the same thing, too. If anything, I suggest making DESIGNATED shooting areas and posting "Littering carries a fine of up to $xxx" signs to discourage the idiots. I'm hoping that Darwin's Natural Selection might someday help thin the herd of these morons.

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