Lawmakers, the state forester, local law enforcement and the Utah Farm Bureau Federation are trying to build support for two bills that deal with an intense wildfire season expected again this Summer. Both are sponsored by Republican Senator Margaret Dayton. Senate Bill 62 would expand the governor’s ability to authorize all water sources needed to fight fires while SB 120 would put time and place restrictions on target shooting. State Forester Dick Buehler says just a small fraction of the 1528 wildfires last year were started by target shooters.
“Because of that, we only close specific areas of the state where we’ve had a high incident of fires started by target shooting. Let me just say also that within the last two months we’ve had three target shooting fires down in Washington county,” says Buehler.
But he says it cost the state $50 million dollars to control wildfires last year and half of the fires were human-caused. Senator Dayton says these are important bills for the safety of the state, but there a reason SB 120, restricting target shooting, contains compromise language.
“In view of the very frightening proposals that come from the administration in Washington DC regarding gun issues, the gun community and the pro-constitution people are justifiably wary of any limitation on their rights. That’s the reason the bill was circled last week,” Dayton says.
However she says those concerns have been settled with the help of Republican Representative Curtis
Oda. Action on either bill isn’t expected until later next week.