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Secluded wood may be ‘plinkers’ paradise’

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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A section of federal wildland near Foresthill may be plinkers’ paradise. But it was a nightmarish scene for volunteers on a cleanup of areas along Pagge Creek near Foresthill strewn with broken bottles, spent bullet shells and other garbage left behind by visitors using it as a gun range. About a dozen volunteers – from fly fishermen to Boy Scouts to river preservationists – spent a day earlier this month cleaning up what has become a magnet for shooters and garbage dumping. Three tons of illegally dumped trash was removed, included several 30-pound garbage bags filled with shotgun shells from the area. Bill Templin, a board member with the Upper American River Foundation, said that in future cleanups, the group is hoping to get the assistance of ammunition makers or the National Rifle Association. The area’s trees and ground were riddled with lead bullets and shot, he said. The area is along a watershed that flows from Pagge Creek into the North Fork of the American Canyon. The creek is located near the Sugar Pine Reservoir. In all, six pickup-loads of targets and trash were removed and taken to the Placer County Refuse Transfer Station to be disposed of properly. Hot water heaters, mattresses, TVs and propane tanks were also taken out. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Templin said. “A lot of shooting goes on there but it’s only a small percentage of shooters who are causing the problems.” But what a problem. Templin estimated perhaps 5,000 of what amounts to hundreds of thousands of shells were picked up at the site. Hundreds of broken beer bottles were also removed. In one area, the shooting was into an abandoned mine but in another area, the targets were trees in the forest. “These people are giving hunters a bad name,” Templin said. Plans are being developed with the U.S. Forest Service to identify “hot spots” where volunteers can help restore habitat near bodies of water like Pagge Creek, he said. Volunteers on the cleanup represented the river foundation, the Forest Service, Granite Bay Flycasters, Sac-Sierra Trout Unlimited, the North Area Sportsmen’s Association and a Roseville Scout troop. Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.