A bill that would better align Idaho’s code on state lands with federal lands law to ban “exploding targets” during the designated fire season is making headway at the State Legislature.

Senate Bill 1154, sponsored by Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Sun Valley, passed in committee and is now on its way to the Senate floor.

“Every year, an increasing number of fires in Idaho are caused by exploding targets,” Stennett said in a statement on Friday. “In July alone, fire officials said that at least eight wildfires were caused by exploding targets in southern Idaho, burning tens of thousands of acres.”

The Sharps Fire last July was caused by an exploding target that burned more than 65,000 acres near Carey. That fire alone drew a number of resources, including more than 142,000 gallons of water and retardant by July 31, according to the Bureau of Land Management at the time. By the time the fire was put out it had cost more than $10 million, Stennett said.

She said besides the cost and resources it takes to fight wildfires, these large blazes endanger lives, including those of firefighters, and can destroy private property, wildlife, public lands, and tourist attractions.

“Every time there is a large fire, we spend millions of dollars in taxpayer money,” Stennet said. “We are not trying to ban exploding targets, but we need to be more responsible when using them."

To clarify what an exploding target is, the bill explains:

'Exploding target' means a device designed for use as a target consisting of a flammable substance or substances capable of exploding when struck by a bullet or projectile.

Likewise, incendiary or tracer ammunition

means ammunition that is designed to ignite or explode upon impact with or penetration of a target or designed to trace its course in the air with a trail of smoke, chemical incandescence, or fire.

"During the fire season, it can get so dry that even a small explosion can start a massive fire," Stennett said. "It is dangerous and costly for us to allow this during this time period.”