PHOENIX — The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management is accepting public comments on a proposed shooting sports pilot project on public lands within the Arizona State Office’s Phoenix District. The pilot will evaluate a variety of active management options to enhance access and safety.
“Since the beginning of my tenure, I’ve considered public access a critical component of our land management, and today we are keeping our promises with an innovative pilot project to increase recreational access to our public lands,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in a press release. “Recreational shooting is one of our nation’s oldest and most popular pastimes. These activities generate funds that support wildlife conservation, public land restoration projects and hunter education. This is a win for all.”
Under the proposed pilot, BLM has identified four recreational shooting “microsites” located on BLM-managed public lands in Maricopa and Pinal counties.
The proposed pilot microsites would offer shooting sports enthusiasts enhanced access and safety through varying levels of potential site development, such as firing lines, backstops, side berms, concrete pads and/or restrooms. The sites were selected because they are located in easily accessible areas and have minimal conflicts with other recreation activities such as hiking, mountain biking, off-highway vehicle use and camping or with natural or cultural resources, housing developments, commercial permits, or energy and telecommunications lines, according to the press release.
“Recreational shooting and the Second Amendment are of critical importance to the people of Arizona. These new opportunities will increase access and provide safe opportunities for sportsmen and local communities,” Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar said in the press release.
“Promoting and protecting use and enjoyment of public lands is a core part of BLM’s mission,” said Casey Hammond, principal deputy assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management, exercising the authority of the BLM director. “We’re excited to learn from this pilot program to identify ways that we can provide greater recreational shooting opportunities while ensuring that other activities and public uses can continue to the greatest degree possible.”
The pilot will not change existing dispersed recreational shooting access, with about 97 percent of BLM-managed lands in Arizona remaining open to shooting sports. The pilot will also not affect licensed hunting on public lands, according to the release.
A 30-day public scoping period will run through July 2. Public input during scoping will guide the BLM’s development of an environmental assessment of the proposal. Public scoping meetings will be held at the following locations:
- June 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1003 E. Eason Ave., Buckeye.
- June 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters, Eagle Conference Room, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix.
Documents related to the project are available for review on BLM’s ePlanning website at https://go.usa.gov/xmfVv.
Interested parties may submit comments directly on the ePlanning website or via email to: PDOEA@blm.gov or mailed to the BLM Phoenix District Office at 21605 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85027, to the attention of Tyler Lindsey, or sent by fax to 623-580-5580. Include “Rec Shooting Microsites” in the subject line.