For years, the Saratoga Springs area has been a place where responsible gun enthusiasts can go target shooting and enjoy the beauty of our outdoor recreation. Like many who have lived in the area for some time, I remember growing up and going shooting on the west side of Utah Lake as a kid. It was during that time in my life when the value of responsible gun ownership and respect for the land were instilled within me.
Unfortunately, today there are a few irresponsible individuals who carelessly leave their “trigger trash” all around the west side of Utah Lake. For those who do not know the term, “trigger trash” is not some politically incorrect slur, it is simply the garbage that irresponsible target shooters leave behind. For the millions of responsible gun owners who care about our lands and this sport, we want to see an end to this type of irresponsible activity.
However, even more frustrating than those who leave behind their trigger trash are those who carelessly shoot tracer ammunition and exploding targets in the dry hills, near the homes of our Saratoga Springs residents. This year, two of the wildfires in Saratoga Springs were caused by target shooting. Collectively, these two fires burned more than 40 acres, required 60 personnel from the Saratoga Springs Fire Department and neighboring fire departments, and cost more than $50,000.
To provide a more historical view, in 2011 over 80 percent of all wildfires in Saratoga Springs were caused by target shooting. In 2012, 18 fires on Lake Mountain were caused by irresponsible target shooting, one of which burned over 5,300 acres, caused evacuation of more than 1,000 homes in both Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain, and expended $2.5 million by federal, state, county and other entities. Ironically, in the vast majority of all these cases, those responsible for these fires were not even residents of Saratoga Springs, nor Utah County, which is an increasing pattern.
As mayor of the city of Saratoga Springs, and as a responsible gun enthusiast, we welcome visitors to our beautiful community to enjoy the wonderful recreational opportunities offered here. However, as a city we are tired of seeing the scars on our mountain, the trash on our hillsides and the reckless destruction of our recreational spaces. I speak of this as “our mountain,” because it belongs to all of us, and Saratoga Springs will no longer stand for the irresponsible actions of a few who hinder the quality of life for all. As such, I am telling those who want to their bring trigger trash to our community to simply stay home — don’t even take it elsewhere — just stay home.
Just as importantly, I invite everyone to learn how to be a responsible gun owner by taking a basic hunter safety course. Every responsible gun owner knows that this course is essential, because it teaches the very basics of gun safety and responsibility. Anyone can sign up for a course for only $10 through the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ website at https://wildlife.utah.gov/hunter-education.html. Think of it. A $10 course can save hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in damages and heartache. The bonus of taking this course is that gun enthusiasts get to enjoy target shooting and talk shop while taking the course.
So before you go target shooting in Saratoga Springs — or anywhere else for that matter — please learn the basics of gun safety and apply the old Boy Scout principle of leaving the area better than when you found it, not worse. Saratoga Springs welcomes responsible gun owners, as well as those who want to enjoy mountain biking, hiking, boating and all of our outdoor recreational amenities, but we politely ask those who cannot live by these basic principles to simply stay home!
Mayor Jim Miller has served on the Saratoga Springs City Council since January 2010. He grew up in Lehi and has lived in Saratoga Springs since 2005. His professional background is in business operations and banking. Mayor Miller is an Eagle Scout, gun enthusiast and avid outdoorsman.