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Re: Hold your fire!

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Hold your fire!
December 31, 2013 11:09AM
What really happened here?

We were hiking in the Stanislaus National Forest over the weekend, following a series of old logging and mining roads above the Stanislaus River. These roads get some traffic, both from street legal and OHVs, and we were a little disappointed at the amount of trash we saw in a few places. One particularly area was a clearing at the top of the ridge, where people had obviously not only used it for target practice many times (there were targets on the trees, and shell casings all over the ground) but also dumped a mattress and other trash. Pretty sad.

We continued on, leaving the clearing on our left, as the road dropped around to the right and then curved back to the left where it crossed over the ridge about a hundred yards past the clearing. At that point there was an open gate, and it was posted by the USFS with large signs indicating that the road was closed to traffic after December 15th.

Good, we thought. We’re about to experience a bit of peace and quiet.

As we passed through the open gate, we heard a vehicle. Yep—a large white pick-up was driving along behind us, headed towards the gate. When it got to the gate, I walked back up to the truck, expecting to have a conversation about the fact that the road was closed to just those kinds of vehicles.

Only then they opened the doors, and I saw the USFS insignias there.

Oops.

So we had a very nice conversation about the roads and the area—and the two USFS employees explained that there were there to close the gate for the season. They had come out two weekends ago to do the same thing, but discovered that the back side of the gate had no reflective tape. They were concerned that someone might run into it at night from the back, and so they had returned with rolls of tape. (There are some operating mines in the area, so we assumed that the miners would have access to their claims, even during the closed season?)

At any rate, after wishing each other well, we left the rangers to their taping and locking of the gate, and we wandered along the road for another mile or so.

About when turned around, we heard some shots behind us, and we guessed that someone was now using the clearing to test their firearms, or make America free. Something like that.

So we cautiously approached that section of the road, although by now the firing had ceased. We found the gate closed and locked, but with only a few strips of tape on the back side. But on the ground were rolls of reflective tape, a pair of scissors, and strips of paper backing from that tape on the gate.

Huh.

So we walked back up to the clearing, and found the USFS truck there, and another SUV. The rangers were talking to the people from the SUV, who were clearly the ones doing the shooting. As we arrived, I saw a citation clipboard in one of the ranger’s hands, and she was filling something out there. Meanwhile, as we arrived, one of the men from the SUV saw us, and turned to the ranger to ask if they could start shooting again.

She told him to wait for the Sheriff to arrive.

We said hello to the rangers, reminded them that their tape and trash were down by the gate (they were on top of that) and started walking back out to our cabin. About fifteen minutes later we met two Sheriff squad cards, two officers in each, passing us and heading out to meet with the USFS rangers.

So our thoughts:

The rangers were a hundred yards down-range from the shooters, and below the horizon. I can only imagine their reaction when the shooting started. I assume that they yelled (although we didn’t hear anything) and ran back up to the clearing in their truck.

Were the shooters cited? If so, what was the citation for? Unsafe operation of a firearm? If so, how does someone at that clearing avoid violating that law? They were on top of a ridge! Even if they had walked down-range and notified the USFS team, and then waited for them to leave---they still would have had us down-range a few minutes later.

(Don’t worry---if we had heard shots on the way back, we were prepared to yell our heads off.)

There was another clearing on this same ridge, a half-mile earlier, and it clearly get used the same way. So this isn’t just a single incident or place. That are these shooters thinking? It would seem to me that there would be justification for posting something about No Shooting in these areas, since they are, by definition, unsafe.

On the other hand, on the North side of the ridge is a very well defined cut in the hill, where the road makes a tight turn into the cut. The cut makes an ideal background for target practice, and that spot gets lots of use from firearm fans. The only way to approach it is from along the road, which is always behind the shooters, as the cut is into a very steep ridge that towers over the road. So it’s not as if the shooters don’t have another place to go.

What are your thoughts?



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Re: Hold your fire!
January 01, 2014 06:11PM
Don't know but glad you weren't injured or otherwise.
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 01, 2014 11:38PM
Welcome to the National Forest -- Land of Anything Goes!

I have had countless similar experiences, as most of my local hiking is done in the Tahoe National Forest. I have seen the same van of squatters going on 4? 5? years, trash piles nearly 6ft tall (no kidding; it was located at the end of a gruelling "destination" hike), hear shots in -- and out of -- hunting season, ducked out of the way of marauding off-road vehicles....and I 1. own fire arms, 2. own off road vehicles 3. make trash (and haul it out) so my current bad attitude is not based on any bias.

The National Forests are grossly understaffed, so that violations/responses have reached the point of it takes an all-out catastrophe before there is any action. During a hike, I ran into a rarely seen N'tl Forest ranger and I think he was more uneasy than I was about what was lurking in the area (weed farms are on the rise, along with the violence and damage that goes with it)



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 02, 2014 06:38AM
Why I am forever grateful for Designated Wilderness.

What do you expect from The National Forest? Heard it a million times.
"I love the National Forest". That's nice. I'll take the road-less area's less traveled thanks.

btw.. Get ready for a wasteland w/r to The Rim Fire. They have started the "Recovery" effort.
Recovery = Rape The Land of Trees



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 02, 2014 08:33AM
Ah, it's not just to rape the land of trees; they are going to build roads, temporary roads that will remain for hundreds of years, to get those trees. Then they'll claim it's no longer a roadless area. If they get the designation changed that will open up the area to all kinds of nasty things.
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 02, 2014 10:07AM
Quote
Dave
...temporary roads.....

An oxymoron!!



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 02, 2014 10:24AM
Yes. For the peeps who drive 120 to the park... keep watching the pile of logs grow at the lumber mill near 49/120.

And yes, they're building NEW roads... We cannot let those trees fall on their own. They may cause damage.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/rimfire.htm

Check out the
Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) plan

You have been Rehabilitated. (duped)

Why do I feel I'm going to footing the bill for some people to get rich off of this?



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Hold your fire!
January 02, 2014 09:36PM
Yesterday we drove down to Evergreen Lodge because we were curious how the area was recovering. There were piles of cut, burned trees in multiple places. Frankly, it pissed me off that the forest is not going to be allowed to recover more naturally.
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 06, 2014 03:09PM
Quote
chick-on
Why do I feel I'm going to footing the bill for some people to get rich off of this?

If it is any consolation, you are not the only one! angry smiley
Re: Hold your fire!
January 06, 2014 06:07PM
I read in the LA Time that the wood might be sold to China to use as concrete forms. Bad enough they are cutting down and then they might send it out of the country. What some people will do to make money.
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 06, 2014 05:10PM
Quote
chick-on
Why do I feel I'm going to footing the bill for some people to get rich off of this?

It worked for the cost redwoods. So why not the Sierra?
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 10, 2014 06:29PM
Quote
Bee
The National Forests are grossly understaffed, so that violations/responses have reached the point of it takes an all-out catastrophe before there is any action.

http://deepcreekhotsprings.net/dchs/forum/read.php?1,23923,23923#msg-23923
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 08, 2014 05:19AM
Balza,

Glad you're okay, and I feel the pain. Very few things make me as angry as people who dump or leave their trash in the Forest. It's completely unacceptable and shows a total disrespect for the land that we all love...although apparently some people don't respect it like the people do on this forum.

As for the incident, I am not very well-versed on the ins and outs of local vs federal law enforcement, but were the USFS employees that you spoke to carrying guns? I ask because my understanding is that not all USFS employees are sworn law enforcement. They may have seen a violation of some sort, but they couldn't issue a citation. Or they could have been law enforcement, and wanting to arrest one of the guys shooting, and I believe in the case of an arrest they transfer the arrested individuals over to the local county law enforcement. The guys could have been legally shooting, but could have had pre-existing warrants, or some sort of gun or magazine that is illegal in california. Perhaps the rangers intended to arrest the guys in question, but wanted to wait until the sheriffs got there as back up? That's just a guess. Or they could have been issued a citation for having a vehicle in a prohibited area in violation of the signs? These area all just guesses.

Also, from your description, at the least that doesn't sound like a safe place to shoot, and at the worst it could be an unsafe/illegal place to shoot and they could be charged with something along the lines of recklessly discharging a firearm. Off the top of my head, and its been a while since I heard the spiel from a ranger, but the rules in SNF are: no shooting at trees, no shooting over any body of water, no shooting over any trail or road, and you must be 100 feet (or yards, I can't recall) from any road or trail. From your description, it sounds like they were violating those rules. If I'm shooting in the Forest, I follow all those rules, plus I want to be shooting up against a hill, where any bullets won't travel half a mile into the woods and go into God know's what. Ideally, you would find a spot that backs up to a steep ridge or cliff with no trails or roads on the other side. Nothing is worse than irresponsible gun owners who treat deadly weapons as a cool toy. Gun ownership is privilege that comes with responsibility. Shooting where you don't know where the round is going is completely unacceptable and dangerous.

Anyways, most of what I've said about your experience is speculation, but I hope it helped. And you know what, I'm still jealous you guys got a trip out and I was stuck working overtime and missed my 49ers beating Bill-e's beloved Packers on the frozen tundra!
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 10, 2014 06:52AM
Quote
oakroscoe
missed my 49ers beating Bill-e's beloved Packers on the frozen tundra!
crying

Good Luck for the rest of the playoffs (just don't go to the Supa Bowl and lose again) (that would be Buffalo Bills - like)



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 10, 2014 04:49PM
Dude....not cool. I've tried to erase that Super Bowl loss from my memory. The pain and agony. Even a backpacking trip into the hot springs at Big Sur didn't raise my spirits after that one. Hell, I didn't even wear my Ronnie Lott jersey again until I went to last home game at Candlestick against Atlanta.
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 10, 2014 05:54PM
Didn't mean to open those wounds. Guess you have to take solice in that I feel your pain.
(although I had to continually hear about how you never lost a Super Bowl... )
(as I tell peeps... don't even go to the Super Bowl unless you win it)

Good luck



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 10, 2014 05:55PM
Seriously... I know how you feel. It pains so much I swear I need to just give up the game.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Hold your fire!
January 10, 2014 09:26AM
Quote
oakroscoe

... and I was stuck working overtime and missed my 49ers beating Bill-e's beloved Packers on the frozen tundra!

I thought it was a good omen that the "frozen tundra" of Lambeau was the same shade of gold as the 49ers uniforms (their pants, not jerseys). wink



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2014 09:26AM by plawrence.
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