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Canyon won't close to target shooters following cleanup

(Stewart Johnson/KSL TV)

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SPRINGVILLE — There's something about hitting a target, a hundred yards away, that makes Neil Taylor smile.

But even before he pulled the trigger Thursday afternoon, and saw what Hobble Creek Canyon now looked like, he couldn't stop smiling.

"It's night and day difference. I can tell you right now,” said Taylor.

He’s not talking about the brilliant fall colors in this part of Utah County.

He’s talking about garbage, or more specifically, the lack of garbage.

Just two weeks ago, this popular target shooting range was full of computers, furniture and small appliances.

They were brought here by target shooters and left behind after being shot full of holes.

"We've come up every year pretty much and it seems like over the years, the trash has really piled up,” said Taylor.

There was so much trash, the Forest Service talked about closing the canyon to target shooting.

That got Shaun Price's attention.

"We like to go shooting up there ourselves and we hate to see someone ruin that experience we have up there,” said Price, who lives in Lehi.

So, Price and some of his co-workers got together to clean up the place.

“We filled up about three garbage bags full of stuff like pop cans and pop bottles and milk bottles,” said Terry DeFreese, who lives in Springville.

In the past week, volunteers with different groups removed so much trash from the canyon, the Forest Service now says it won't have to close it.

It's night and day difference. I can tell you right now.

–Neil Taylor.

"Folks just stepped up and felt it was important to take care of the canyon,” said George Garcia, who is the district ranger of the Spanish Fork Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. “I think as long as the public keeps the canyon clean, they pick up their targets, and the trash is cleaned up, like I said before, target shooting is a legitimate recreation activity on Forest Service land and we hope to keep it that way.”

There is still the issue of bullet holes in signs, gates and trail markers.

That's harder to clean because it involves getting a new sign, which means money. A small metal printed sign can cost $500.

"I know the government has spent money to put up nice, printed metal signs and then they get shot up. That's the one that bothers me a lot,” said DeFreese.

However, that's a battle for another time.

For now, at least, Hobble Creek Canyon is cleaner than it has been in years, thanks to people who decided to do something about it, instead of just complain about it.

"The easiest thing to do would be to type a message on a comment board somewhere, but it takes not much more effort to go up there with a garbage bag,” said Price.

Garcia says it’s most likely only a small number of target shooters who are leaving behind the garbage.

There are still shotgun shells and bullet casings on the ground, but it looks better now than it did just two weeks ago.

"I've tried to teach my boys, that when we go hunting or shooting, let's always pick up a little more trash than we brought in,” said Taylor.


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