U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued the following announcement on Jan. 30.
The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Phoenix District has published a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Decision Record approving the Recreational Shooting Sports Project, clearing the way for the construction and operation of five recreational shooting sites to be built on public lands near the Phoenix metro area. The sites will provide active management, enhanced access and increased safety for shooting sports enthusiasts and other public land users near one of the most populated metro areas in the nation.
"Recognizing that recreational shooting is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing pastimes in America, this plan is a creative and proactive model to increase safe and accessible opportunities for the sporting public," said Casey Hammond, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management. "We’re proud to provide this new, innovative direction to welcome all Americans to enjoy recreational shooting on public lands."
"Under the BLM’s multiple-use mission, we work to strike a balance in land use and resource management," said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. "Phoenix is one of the most populated and fastest growing metro areas in the nation. This growth has spurred increased demand for recreation access on adjacent public lands. We listened to feedback from Valley residents and the shooting sports community while developing this project, which provides active management options to enhance recreation access and safety for all public land users."
A 2018 report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation found a 28% increase in target shooting participation since 2001 and an 80% increase among women and girls. More people participate in target shooting than play tennis, soccer or baseball, according to the report.
Based on environmental analysis and public input received through the planning process, the BLM determined there would be no significant impacts associated with the construction, maintenance and operation of the five sites. These sites—Baldy Mountain, Church Camp Road, and Saddleback Mountain sites in North Phoenix; Narramore Road site in West Phoenix; and Box Canyon site near Maricopa—were selected because they are located in easily accessible areas and have minimal conflicts with other recreation activities and land uses, or natural and cultural resources.
Construction of the first site, Baldy Mountain, is anticipated to begin this spring. The BLM will complete plans addressing operations, safety, environmental stewardship and monitoring at the sites prior to construction.
The project is consistent with Secretary’s Order 3356, to enhance conservation stewardship and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans and the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act signed by President Trump on March 12, 2019.
Several documents associated with this project, including maps of the five shooting sports sites, are available online at the BLM’s ePlanning website at https://go.usa.gov/xmfVv. During the planning process, the BLM held a 15-day public comment period and received 23 comments to consider. A summary of those comments is also available at the ePlanning website.
This project will not change existing dispersed recreational shooting access, with approximately 97 percent of BLM-managed public lands in Arizona remaining open to shooting sports. This effort will also not affect licensed hunting on public lands.
Original source can be found here.