USDA Forest Service Proposes Shooting Closure to Implement Pole Mountain Decision Notice

Release Date: 

This is permanent authority under the Dingell Act for an annual order which has been in place since 2000.

Media Contact: Aaron Voos, 970-819-2898

(LARAMIE, Wyo.) April 5, 2023 — The USDA Forest Service proposes to seasonally close recreational shooting in the Pole Mountain Area of the Laramie Ranger District. The closure would prohibit shooting from March 31 to September 10 each year to reduce user conflicts, resource damage and associated risks over public safety.

The proposed closure order would implement management direction adopted under the Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact – Limiting Firearm Use Within the Pole Mountain Area that was signed January 28, 2000. Annual emergency orders have been utilized to implement the decision since that time. As the Forest has worked through the Dingell Act process, one-year emergency shooting orders were issued for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. 

The shooting order would apply only to National Forest System (NFS) land within Pole Mountain. Recreational shooting is allowed on the remaining approximately 2.2-million acres of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests outside of Pole Mountain year-round. All other legal types of recreational shooting are allowed year-round on all acres of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests. For example, the closure would not affect other types of recreational shooting, would not impact shooting on private and state lands, and exempts people in possession of a valid Wyoming state hunting license when hunting in compliance with Wyoming state law.

The Pole Mountain unit is approximately 55,500 acres of NFS lands in Albany County, Wyo., 12 miles southeast of Laramie and 30 miles west of Cheyenne along the Interstate 80 corridor. Due to its proximity to Interstate 80, as well as population centers in Wyoming and Colorado, Pole Mountain has become a convenient and popular destination for visitors who enjoy numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, including recreational shooting. Over the last four decades, the number and variety of recreational activities, special uses, and management projects on Pole Mountain have greatly increased. It has become a concentrated public use area, particularly between March 31 and September 10 of each year.

Recreational shooting in the Pole Mountain Area has been known to occur in unsafe locations, such as in and near developed recreation areas, or using unsafe practices, such as with no backstops, rounds fired across canyons, along roads, across roads, etc. Widespread recreational shooting can result in litter, damage to public property and resources, and negative impact to habitat for big game during non-hunting seasons. It can also result in conflicts among users.

The Forest Service is asking for public input on the proposed shooting closure order. The proposal is being considered under the process outlined in the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. PUBL009.PS (congress.gov). The comment period for the proposed shooting closure order will last April 12 – June 10, 2023.  Please submit comments to the online CARA portal at: https://cara.fs2c.usda.gov/Public/CommentInput?project=NP-3457 (preferred method).  Comments also can be sent to Frank Romero, Laramie District Ranger, frank.e.romero@usda.gov, 2468 Jackson St, Laramie, WY 82072. 

Please note that the Forest Service previously received and responded to comments about the proposed shooting restrictions as part of the planning process for the 2008 Allotment Management Plan Revisions for the Pole Mountain Grazing Allotments and Limiting Firearm Use Within the Pole Mountain Area Environmental Assessment. For the current comment period, the Forest Service encourages commenters to avoid repeating information or issues raised previously for the 2008 EA. All previously raised information and issues were analyzed in the EA. (https://usfs-public.box.com/s/ygvm08wtirq57qh8z5cli2l7ic4p7kg9)

Information on the Medicine Bow National Forest can be found on our website or on the Forests’ Twitter and Facebook accounts. The Laramie Ranger District office can be reached at (307) 745-2300.