COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Starting July 1, the Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District, will extend the existing closure of Ash and Hunter canyons to all recreational shooting.
The emergency closure is being extended to allow for continued public health and safety, and for the continued protection of wildlife habitat and vegetation in Hunter Canyon and Ash canyons.
Extending the closure to shooting will allow the area to continue to recover, improving vegetative growth and forage and cover for wildlife, and allow for continued cleanup of damaged hazard trees as well as lead, shells and shooting debris.
The closure order will remain in effect until July 1, 2017 or until it is rescinded. During this time the Sierra Vista Ranger District will continue to develop a Shooting Management Plan for all canyons along the east side of the Huachuca Mountains.
The extension of the emergency closure prohibits discharging a firearm, air rifle or gas gun in the restricted area. Binary explosives such as Tannerite remain illegal in all areas of the Coronado National Forest at all times of the year.
Exemptions to the closure include persons with a Forest Service permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act, and any person possessing a valid Arizona hunting license lawfully involved in hunting and harvesting game. Also included are any federal, state, local officers or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force performing an official duty.
Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
The remainder of the Sierra Vista Ranger District remains available for safe and responsible recreational shooting, to include the Huachuca, Patagonia, and Whetstone Mountain ranges. A public shooting range also provides shooting opportunities east of Sierra Vista.
Forest visitors are reminded that recreational shooting is restricted in Reef and Ramsey campgrounds, Carr Picnic Area, Miller Canyon and trailheads as well as Ramsey Canyon due to proximity to homes, structures, and forest facilities in the area.
For more information please contact the Sierra Vista Ranger District located at 4070 S. Avenida Saracino, Hereford, AZ. The office can be reached by phone by calling (520) 378-0311. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.