The Utah State Forester announced new restrictions Tuesday afternoon that prohibit various actions that could cause fires throughout the state.
Among the acts that were banned as of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday are using steel-jacketed or steel-core ammunition; cutting, welding or grinding metal; discharging tracer ammunition; and the use of exploding targets that are detonated when struck by a bullet or other projectile.
Those who violate the new prohibitions are subject to being cited with a class-B misdemeanor.
Buehler was authorized Monday by Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leaders to ban shooting, targets that explode on impact and possibly other activities in areas he deems at risk of fire.
For weeks, state officials have said they were powerless to ban gun use on public lands because of Second Amendment rights, but legislative leaders said they found an obscure state law that empowers the state forester to act in an emergency.
With target shooters causing the 21st wildfire in Utah on Sunday in Millville, state leaders decided enough was enough.
“The Second Amendment is a right to keep and bear arms. We’re saying you can keep and bear arms and use them if you’re attacked by a bear or in an assault,” Senate President Michael Waddoups said Tuesday. “But you still have to use your weapons wisely. You can’t shoot anything you want.”
Waddoups said he believes most of the wildfires started by target shooters involved steel-jacketed bullets, which were recently banned on state and federal lands in Utah. Officials are telling sportsmen to use lead bullets that don’t give off sparks when they hit rocks.
In a statement issued by the state’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, several acts were listed as now prohibited on unincorporated state lands. Only incorporated cities and towns are exempt.
“Due to current and forecasted weather conditions coupled with the extremely dry condition and heavy loading of vegetation throughout (Utah) ... measures must be taken to prevent costly and damaging forest and rangeland fires,” the statement from State Forester Dick Buehler reads.
The following are now prohibited on the areas, roads and trails in unincorporated areas of the state until rescinded by the Utah State Forester:
• Setting, building, maintaining, attending or using open fires of any kind, except campfires built within the facilities provided for them in improved campgrounds, picnic areas or permanently improved places of habitation.
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area of at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared to mineral soil.
• Discharging or using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices.
• Cutting, welding or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
• The use of any steel jacketed or steel core ammunition of any caliber.
• The use of exploding targets that are detonated when struck by a projectile such as a bullet from a firearm.
Those with permits specifically authorizing the prohibited act at a specific location are exempted, in addition to any certified peace officer, local, state or federal fire officer or firefighting force that is acting in the performance of an official duty.