About 20 sport-shooters, along with Forest Service personnel and local law enforcement officers, gathered on Saturday morning to conduct a stewardship cleanup at the popular Zimmerman Butte shooting area.

The event was conducted under the auspices of the group Trash No Land out of Washington, with the support of the U.S. Forest Service and sponsorship from a variety of outdoor-oriented businesses. The Forest Service provided a Dumpster for the cleanup, and Sisters Ranger District personnel pitched in to pick up and haul trash.

Sisters Ranger District law enforcement officer Fred Perl thanked the volunteers, noting that the work fits in with the USFS motto of “safe forest, healthy forest.”

“Thank you for promoting the vitality of the forest, as well,” he said.

Trash No Land coordinator Bill Cogley emphasized the importance of responsible shooters taking care of the areas where they shoot — because if they become unsafe or detrimental to forest health, they could be shut down. Keeping and bearing arms is a right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — but the ability to go out shooting on public lands is a privilege.

“We have a right to own firearms, but we don’t have a right to shoot on public land,” Cogley told the assembled volunteers. “It’s a privilege. We’d hate to see it go away because people abuse the privilege.”

Responsible shooting means observing safety precautions and using appropriate targets — not junk and trash. And targets should be removed after a shooting session.

“You leave your targets out here, it’s illegal dumping,” Cogley said. “You bring your targets out, you take them back… Invest in some legal targets, like reusable ones. You’re not going to leave them out in the forest; you’re going to take them with you.”

Shooters should not fire at trees, which damages them to the point of killing them, and can pose a fire hazard if using steel-jacketed bullets.

The cleanup took about 2-1/2 hours, encompassing three areas popular with shooters on and around Zimmerman Butte, which lies about five miles west of Sisters. Volunteers cleaned up cans and bottles and paper targets left behind in the area and hauled out barbed wire, propane tanks and other metal junk. The area was not in particularly bad shape at the start, and by the time the volunteers were done, it was looking well spruced up.

Some volunteers expressed the hope that the cleanup could become a regular event.

Deputy Shane Zook of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, a target shooter himself, expressed his appreciation:

“It means a lot to the sheriff’s office that organizations like this are willing to step up and do things like this.”

For more information on safe, responsible recreational shooting, visit www.TrashNoLand.org.