The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed that 41,000 acres of public land in the Birds of Prey NCA (near Boise) be closed to recreational shooting.
However, we have good news! Thanks to the hard work of Congressman Bill Sali's office, the BLM appears to be reconsidering plans to close this area. NRA is extremely pleased with the commitment shown by the Congressman and his staff to protect sportsmen in Idaho. Congressman Sali's staff, along with staff members from the offices of Governor Butch Otter, and Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, recently met with the BLM on two occasions to discuss this issue.
During the last meeting, congressional and gubernatorial staff vigorously questioned the BLM on its justification for such a widespread closure. BLM had been alleging that there are increasing conflicts between recreational shooters and Idaho National Guard operations in the area. However, two generals from Idaho's National Guard were invited by Congressman Sali's office to attend the meeting reported that, in fact, conflicts were very rare. Further, the generals expressed concerns that the proposed closure could actually lead to problems by concentrating shooters in an area where Idaho guardsmen regularly conduct training exercises.
NRA-ILA has been told that the BLM state director, Tom Dyer, who flew to Idaho from Washington D.C. specifically for the meeting, provided a voice of reason to the agency's process. Dyer apparently agreed that there must be a way to leave the public land open to recreational shooting and still maintain the outstanding public safety record in the area. He instructed his staff to develop a workable plan that does not involve massive closures of public land to recreational shooting.
NRA would like to express its thanks to Congressman Sali for leading the charge on this critical issue, to the other members of the congressional delegation and Governor Otter for supporting Congressman Sali, and to State Director Dyer for recognizing that the land use plan proposed by his agency is not appropriate and could, in fact, be counter-productive.
NRA members in the Boise area need to monitor this issue to ensure that local BLM managers follow the direction of their State Director. NRA-ILA will continue to follow developments and will report as the process unfolds.