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KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

‘Trigger Trash’ Leading to Contamination, Expensive Cleanup on Public Lands

Jens Lelie

Public lands are a haven for target shooting throughout our region. However, many are leaving bullet casings and litter behind, and that's a problem.

Litter from so-called "trigger trash" is leading to lead contamination of soil and costing taxpayers thousand of dollars in cleanup.

Kurt Miers is with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada. He says this issue is common throughout the region, particularly in areas just outside of cities.

"When people leave trash out there, it kind of gives a message for others to come out and leave their trash as well," he says. "And it gets to be overwhelming in some cases."

Miers says at just one cleanup spot north of Reno, the total cleanup will cost taxpayers upwards of $200,000. But, it's not just about the economics. Miers says volunteers picking up trash is not the answer.

"They go out there and they have their kids out there and they try to pick up all this stuff, and it's dangerous levels for people to go pick up and get it on their hands," he says.

Miers says other public lands throughout the region are being surveyed to determine pollution from target shooters. He urges anyone going on on public lands to clean up all bullet casings and any trash.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration among Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2019 KUNR. To see more, visit KUNR.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.