By Arizona Game And Fish Department

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that they are now accepting public comments on a proposed shooting sports pilot project on public lands within the Arizona State Office’s Phoenix District. The pilot, being conducted in cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, will evaluate a variety of active management options to enhance access and safety.

Under the proposed pilot, consistent with Secretary’s Order 3356 and the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the BLM has identified four recreational shooting “microsites” located on BLM-managed public lands in Maricopa and Pinal Counties near Phoenix. 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.

The pilot will not change existing dispersed recreational shooting access, with approximately 97 percent of BLM-managed lands in Arizona remaining open to shooting sports. The pilot will also not affect licensed hunting on public lands.

A 30-day public scoping period will run from June 3 to July 2, 2019. Public input during scoping will guide the BLM’s development of an environmental assessment of the proposal.

Public scoping meetings will be held, in open-house format, at the following locations:

  • June 11, 2019: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Buckeye Community Center, 201 E. Centre Ave., Buckeye, AZ 85326.
  • June 13, 2019: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Arizona Game and Fish Department Headquarters, Eagle Conference Room, 5000 West Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086.

“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 the BLM news 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, and under President Trump’s leadership, we’re committed to supporting and facilitating recreational shooting on public lands.”

“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. I applaud Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and Casey Hammond for their leadership. I’m confident the four recreational shooting sites located in Maricopa and Pinal Counties will be welcomed and put to good use,” said Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S.