JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Starting May 1, recreators who plan to go shooting a the Snake River Canyons Park in Jerome County will be met with restrictions.
"It’s been a work in progress to try and get a compromise between not limiting all the shooting out there and have no shooting area to go to as opposed to work with a compromise and do half the park," said Charles Howell, a Jerome County Commissioner.
The Jerome County Commissioners approved an ordinance presented by the Snake River Canyons Park, who have been working on this for quite some time.
"We had literally talked for months and months and months about what to do," said Don Zuck, a board member. "There was a talk about closing the whole park off, and we decided that it would be better for the shooters to go, but yet make a large part of the park safe for off-roaders, the horse riders and other activities. The ordinance has come together to divide the park."
While driving down Shoshone Falls Road right after the bridge, drivers meet another street called 700 East Road. The area to the right, and east of the road will be for shooting. Any area to the west, or left of it, will be restricted.
"The impetus was because of safety," Zuck said.
Howell said he just wants recreators to be aware out there.
"I just received another email about people horseback riding out in that area and bullets whizzing over their head," he said.
Signs will be posted within the next few weeks to let recreators know of the new restrictions.
"We’re going to get those signs up in short order and we also are going to build a kiosk with a big map on it, to show where the key areas are and it’ll familiarize people with the bounds of the park and who owns what land and where you can shoot and can’t shoot," Zuck explained.
The board is also working with the Jerome County Sheriff's Office to educate and enforce the ordinance.
"We’re going to try to use the first several months to educate people and so the deputies, if you’re shooting where you shouldn’t be, the deputies should be coming up and saying 'OK listen, things have changed, you can’t shoot here anymore, you need to go to the east end of the park,' but they have repeat offenders that don’t want to give it up, then they will be issued a ticket," he explained.
For motocross riders Brady Gough and Erich Leishman, they think it's a good idea to have the rules.
"Everyone that comes out on the trails, it keeps them a lot safer," Gough said. "You don't really have to worry as much if you're going to get hit."
"We like to come here shooting too and I think it's awesome they can come out here riding and shooting at the same time," Leishman said.
However, this is all just a short-term solution.
"We’re proposing to develop a shooting range on the north side of Interstate 84, but that’s a work in-progress," Howell said.
Zuck, who is also in charge of this project, said it will probably be two to three years before they get a shooting range out there. The proposed shooting range would be located right after Interstate 84 if a driver follows the 700 East Road.
"It’s going to be a nice place for the shooters to go and it’ll be safe. Everybody will be shooting the same direction and they wont be shooting towards towns or the roads and it will be all out in a safe direction," Zuck said.
The land is still owned under the Bureau of Land Management, and Zuck said they're working on acquiring that area.
While they still have a few years before that happens, the short term solution will be what recreators have to follow.
There's even a date set up to pick up the trash around those shooting areas now.
"We do have a couple of organizations, our local ATV groups are scheduled for May 18 to clean that up," Howell said.
So that they can make the park a safer and better place to recreate for all.
"It's going to be happening quick now. It took a long time leading to this but it's here and it's going to happen," Zuck said.