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High fire conditions in Los Padres National Forest and potential wildfire dangers from shooting has the U.S. Forest Service outlawing unmanaged recreational shooting through June 30. Low precipitation levels and dry conditions are forecast through spring, leading to the extension of the current closure, active since January 2019. Hunters with a valid California license are exempt during the open hunting season.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife is also completing a study on the effects of unmanaged target shooting on rare and endangered plants. In addition to Los Padres, the Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests have also banned unpermitted target shooting.
Under the ban, shooting a firearm is only allowed in permitted shooting ranges like Winchester Canyon Gun Club and Ojai Valley Gun Club. About two dozen indoor and outdoor ranges exist near Los Padres forest, which stretches across four counties.
Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations. Some cases can also lead to up to six months in prison.
Clarification: This story clarified on Jan. 21 the extent of Los Padres National Forest and where shooting ranges can be found.