Shooting causing damage in the Tonto National Forest

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by Steve Bodinet

azfamily.com

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 8:59 PM

TONTO NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. -- Some shooters are using saguaro cactuses as targets in the Tonto National Forest.

Lynn and George Martin are third generation ranchers near the town of Superior, east of the Valley.  Their property borders the Tonto National Forest where target shooters are causing damage to plants and leaving huge amounts of trash behind.

"That's the sound of gunfire in the background," Lynn Martin said as we listen to the shooting coming from just a few hundred yards from their ranch. 

Impromptu wildcat shooting ranges are everywhere in this section of the forest. 

Shooters bring out all types of junk, from refrigerators to washing machines, to use as targets and the ground is littered with spent shells. 

"The place has gone to hell," said George Martin. "And it's just getting worse everyday."

The Martins are upset with the lack of law enforcement in the area.  While they applaud the efforts of the Pinal County Sheriff's Department, they said the Tonto National Forest and the Arizona Game and Fish Department are doing little to control illegal shooting and the trashing of the area.

While speaking with the Martins and Sgt. Brian Messing of the Pinal County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday, there was no shortage of people shooting all types of guns throughout the Tonto National Forest. 

Believe it or not, Dale Shoemaker even brought his homemade cannon there to fire off rounds. 

He said he came to the Tonto because he can't shoot a cannon in his own neighborhood. 

The Martins want Shoemaker and other shooters to remember the area along the Tonto is their neighborhood and they'd like them to treat it with respect.

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