Target practice has neighbors nervous about stray bullets

Illegal dumping, illegal shooting SE of Bend

Neighbors worried about target practice in SE Bend

BEND, Ore. - Shooting guns is not an unusual pastime in Central Oregon. But for some people living just southeast of Bend, the way it's being done by some is unacceptable.

Scott Linden lives in the Sundance neighborhood near Horse Butte. He said Tuesday there are growing numbers of people in the area who are illegally dumping trash, and illegally shooting guns.

"It's not about noise. It's not about trash. The biggest issue is: Some daughter is going to get shot on a trail while jogging," Linden said. 

Coyote Butte and Cabin Butte are two areas south of Bend where people can legally shoot guns.

But nearby neighbors said rules are not being enforced, and someone who lives nearby or uses one of the trails is going to get hurt. 

"It is a low priority for the Forest Service. They're always complaining. They're always whining that they're underpaid and overworked, understaffed and too many projects. Well, this project will save a life," Linden said.

According to people living in the area, shots are being fired 24/7. Also, people are shooting and dumping trash, including large items like TVs and refrigerators. And, they say, they are shooting in all directions. 

Bend-Fort Rock District Ranger Kevin Larkin said the Forest Service is using education to fight the problem.

"Shooting is a legitimate and legal use of National Forest System lands," Larkin said. "So we want to work with these folks who want to follow the rules, and let them know that there are impacts, more impacts with shooting than with most recreational activities. We want to make sure we get those messages across to people who are shooting."

However, Linden says it's not working, at least not in the area near southeast Bend.

"You won't see this kind of garbage, you won't see unauthorized shooting over at Phil's Trail or anything else over on the Westside," he said. "You won't see the piles of old refrigerators and televisions, because the Westside has, by their own admission, been given the priority of the Forest Service. to the extent and to the detriment of the Eastaside," Linden said.

The Forest Service official disagreed with that sentiment.

"I would dispute that the location that this is happening has any bearing on the response that we've given," Larkin said. "We have 1.1 million acres on the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District and 1.6 (million) on the Deschutes National Forest that we're responsible for managing, and we treat all those areas equally and give them all the attention we can with the resources that we have." 

Some residents would like to see the area closed to shooting and the shooting area moved further out, away from neighborhoods and trails.

The Forest Service said it will work this year to clean up some of the spots and post more signs.

Depending on the situation, the fine for illegal dumping or illegal shooting can reach $5,000.

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