Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / May 5, 2023
(Douglas County, Colo.) After command staff attended a Trout Creek community meeting, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office led a cleanup at the Turkey Tracks shooting range in Pike National Forest on April 20.
The range, off Colorado 67 north of Woodland Park, attracts many shooters. Over time it has become littered with trash, including shell casings and targets, and was attracting dangerous shooting practices — like using exploding targets and non-traditional items, like refrigerators, as targets. This can cause fire and injuries to shooters at the range or wildlife in the area.
“People were shooting recklessly,” said DougCo Sheriff Darren Weekly. “They were shooting street signs. They were shooting in the direction of traffic, they were shooting in the direction of a subdivision up there, shooting at all hours of the night, shooting exploding targets, which is extremely dangerous regardless of the time of year, obviously, for forest fires.”
Weekly and members of his command staff attended a Trout Creek community meeting, and within two weeks of hearing the residents’ concerns, the team organized a cleanup event in collaboration with the Trout Creek neighborhood. DougCo deputies partnered with Douglas County Public Works and dozens of community members to remove the litter left by shooters.
The crews removed 26 tons of trash, spent shell casings, and old targets. Some of the notable items found were a few trees that were felled by gunfire, propane tanks, televisions, wooden target stands, fence posts, vehicle brake shoes and food packaging.
Weekly said he believed there had not been a concentrated cleanup at the Turkey Tracks shooting range in the 29 years he has served at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. He said this is just one of the ways he seeks to listen and respond to Douglas County residents’ concerns.
“We don't want anybody certainly injured or killed by a stray bullet because somebody's shooting recklessly,” Weekly said. “I'm a Second Amendment supporter, Second Amendment defender. I believe you know the people should have the right to to shoot, but they've got to do it in a safe manner.”
The sheriff noted that if Turkey Tracks closed due to this careless behavior, he believes gun owners will still go to the area and shoot in the general forest.