- Casey Bradley Gent
- Trash litters the roads on the way to Rosemont Reservoir.
The gravel road that leads to Rosemont Reservoir is lined with aspens, pine trees and shotgun shells.
Here, in a section of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests that lies in Teller County, shooting is legal under certain circumstances. But leaving trash behind from shooting is not. Littering the areas along forest roads, spent bullet casings and shotgun shells proliferate, befouling the otherwise natural environment. In many places, shooters have mowed down trees, leaving frayed stumps behind. In one spot near the Platt Rogers Tunnel entrance — not far from Rosemont Dam — all types of trash have been left by shooters.
Keith Riley, Colorado Springs Utilities general manager of water systems operations, says Utilities crews remove truckloads of junk weekly, ranging from food wrappers to bullet-blasted furniture. Worse, some shooters illegally fire across roads and into areas that might be populated, such as the shores of the reservoir, where public fishing is allowed.
The U.S. Forest Service prohibits discharge of firearms unless firing at cardboard, paper or metal targets, or thrown-type clay targets or empty metal cans that are 16 ounces or less. It's also illegal to fire at trees and rocks.
- Casey Bradley Gent
- Shooters will fire at anything, including signs and rocks.
"It makes me mad. It makes me sick," Riley says. "They have no respect for the woods. This kind of abuse along this road is something I get passionate about."
Riley recently escorted representatives from the El Paso County and Teller County sheriff's offices, the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife on a tour of the area. "We're working with law enforcement to help increase their presence," Riley says. "They recognize the problem and want to assist us to make sure it's safe. We have infrastructure out here that people have been shooting at."
El Paso County Sheriff's spokesman Jackie Kirby says via email that deputies will respond to calls for service but the office lacks resources to conduct patrols unless Utilities contracts for such work. The state referred questions to the Forest Service, which didn't return a phone call seeking comment; nor did Teller County respond.