The Arizona Game and Fish Department supports the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed alternative (Alternative E) regarding ‘Recreational Target Shooting Areas’ in the BLM’s proposed Lower Sonoran and Sonoran Desert National Monument Resource Management Plan and final Environmental Impact Statement. View the Department’s letter of support to the BLM.

The plan encompasses the Sonoran Desert National Monument and other nearby lands managed by the BLM’s Lower Sonoran Field Office— a total of nearly 1.4 million acres of public lands located southwest of Phoenix in parts of Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Gila and Yuma counties.

Game and Fish officials pointed out that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) establishes a multiple-use mission for public lands under the jurisdiction of Bureau of Land Management.

“Recreational target shooting is a traditional recreational use of BLM lands, where appropriate, and we are encouraged that the Bureau has endorsed its multiple-use mission by embracing dispersed recreational shooting in its Resource Management Plan,” said Josh Avey, habitat program chief for Game and Fish.

Recreational shooting is recognized as a legitimate and important recreational resource valued by the public. Dispersed recreational shooting on BLM public lands provides an important opportunity, especially for urban youth, to get outside and develop a personal connection with the outdoors. It serves as an informal gateway to formal shooting sports and hunting. Game and Fish recognizes hunters as not only supporters of the multiple-use mission, but supporters and principal funders of wildlife conservation.

Further, the importance of hunting, and of recreational shooting as a gateway to hunting, is recognized in the 2006 Executive Order 13443, “Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation.” That executive order called for the development of a “Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Resource Conservation Plan,” with an implementation recommendation to increase structured hunting programs and recreational shooting opportunities as a means of achieving a net increase in federal land hunting.

“The department understands and respects BLM’s mandate to avoid and minimize impacts to monument objects and protect the public’s safety, as well as the need to proactively manage recreational activities on the monument,” said Avey. “We look forward to continuing our collaborative partnership with BLM in planning and implementation efforts for responsible recreational shooting as described in the plan.”

Logo courtesy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department

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