Gunfire ignited several fires this summer west of Utah Lake. But after target shooters' stray bullets began landing near homes, the Bureau of Land Management decided to issue a temporary shooting ban.
The shooting closure began Friday for about 900 acres around the Lake Mountain area west of Utah Lake in Utah County, the BLM Salt Lake City field office said. The closure could remain in effect for at least two years with an option for extension.
Because the Lake Mountain terrain is flat, stray bullets from recreational shooters are landing near homes, cars and people, creating a "serious safety hazard," a news release from the agency stated.
Violators may be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both. They may also get additional fines.
The properties in the closure are next to State Road 68 (Redwood Road), which increases the potential for injury to motorists, said Utah County Sheriff James O. Tracy.
"The BLM is closing an area that is close to the highway and not the best place for the public to go shooting," he stated in the release.
Signs in the area notify the public of the target shooting enforcement. However, the ban won't affect legal hunting during the hunt season.
"We are working closely with the BLM to develop more areas where the public can enjoy target shooting safely," stated Utah County Commissioner Doug Witney.
A map of the temporary closure area is here: http://on.doi.gov/aNRt1P.