Outdoor enthusiasts voice concerns about Redington Pass future - Tucson News Now

Outdoor enthusiasts voice concerns about Redington Pass future

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The future of a popular recreation area was up for discussion on Monday night.

The Friends of Redington Pass invited all of the recreation groups in town to come out and highlight their areas of concern.

Forest service officials say thousands of people recreate at Redington Pass every week.  This includes hikers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, ATV and other off road vehicle users, and gun enthusiasts.

Many of the shooting hot spots were shut down a couple years go, after environmental advocates highlighted littering concerns.  The carpet of shell casings that laying in the area had leached lead into the soil, leading to a high level of contamination, according to the EPA.

As a result, forest service officials closed off the areas with barbed wire, warning people that shooting was prohibited in the area.  Forest service officials said gun enthusiasts could still shoot their guns in other parts of the recreation area, as it was public land.

Chipper Beiner, who practiced target shooting in the area said the issue was not the shooters, it was those who were littering. Instead of shutting down areas, Beiner felt officials should enforce the current laws prohibiting littering.

Hikers and campers had also expressed concerns about the noise from the guns and off roading vehicles.

Larry Lang, who liked to ride his ATV along popular trails at Redington Pass worried that the forest service would consider shutting down trails.

Forest service officials said right now there were no plans to close down anything.  Officials are hoping to get information from citizens, on how they use the recreation area.  Next year, officials said they would start working on putting a 10-year land use management plan together.

Forest service officials said they would re-consider what to do with the closed off shooting areas in September. Re-opening them was a possibility.

The Tucson Rod and Gun club is currently collecting funds to open a managed shooting area near Redington pass, as there are not many areas to practice target shooting, according to their website.

Friends of Redington Pass plan to hold more meetings in the future.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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