Rogue shooters have shot up a "Shooting Prohibited" sign on Redington Pass, and vandals smashed another sign to the ground - just weeks after an event marking a cleanup of trashed-out shooting sites.
"Unfortunately, damage has occurred to some signs in Redington Pass" east of Tucson, said Heidi Schewel, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.
The agency manages the area, which was closed to shooting earlier this year for an indefinite period because it was defiled with shooting debris and riddled targets.
"Also unfortunately, additional damage may occur in the future," Schewel said. "We will maintain the signs to be readable. They will be replaced as needed. And we will continue with our cooperative enforcement patrols in the area to prevent damage to the public's property, provide for employee and public safety and enforce applicable regulations."
Kirk Emerson, president of the group Friends of Redington Pass, said the sign vandalism is "an unfortunate occurrence" in an area where recreation conditions have improved recently.
"I believe that the more people we can attract who want to enjoy the pass and demand a safe recreational experience up there, the fewer of these incidents will happen," Emerson said.
Fences were erected in January around three dispersed shooting sites near mile marker 6 on the road, and cleanup work began soon after.
Schewel said crews removed 75 cubic yards - three large dump truck loads - of debris including spent bullets, shell casings, and appliances, beer kegs and other items used as targets.
The sites remained free of shooting debris last week, but it appeared that vandals had cut through one of the fences to gain access to a sign and knock it down.
The Forest Service and the Friends of Redington Pass held an event along the Redington Road on April 6 to celebrate completion of the cleanup and highlight the many recreation opportunities in the area.
Visitors were welcomed to enjoy camping, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, picnicking, wildlife watching, nature study and other activities. Recreational shooting also could continue in the area after the current closure - possibly at a managed shooting range now under consideration.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz