The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released a plan for the future management of nearly 1.4 million acres located southwest of Phoenix in parts of Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Gila and Yuma Counties. Of that total, over 486,000 acres are within the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDMN) which the BLM proposes to close to target shooters. Presently, some 63 sites in the national monument are used by shooters for their recreational activity. The planning area outside of the SDNM will remain open to target shooting. The plan also addresses other issues of importance to shooters and hunters including the designation of roads and trails for motorized vehicles and areas that could be managed as wilderness.
If you recreate in the SDNM, especially if you enjoy recreational shooting, getting involved in this planning process is of paramount importance. This is not the first time that the BLM has attempted to close an entire national monument to shooters, making no attempt to provide places for and access to shooting sites. One-half million acres closed to one segment of the recreating public is unacceptable.
The plan proposes four management alternatives in addition to Alternative A which is the “No Action” (or present conditions) alternative. Alternative B is the most recreation-friendly and like Alternative C, it will leave open some areas of the SDNM to target shooting. Alternatives D and E close the SDNM permanently. Alternative E is the preferred alternative and is likely the one that BLM will choose as the new management plan for SDNM.
Whichever alternative BLM selects, it must allow recreational shooting to continue in some of the 63 sites that shooters have been using. The BLM needs to commit resources to set aside and manage safe shooting sites, in as much as it manages land for all other recreational activities.
The public comment period is open through November 25. Comments can be faxed to 623-580-5580 or mailed to BLM, Phoenix District Office, ATTN: LS-SDNM RMP, 21605 North 7th Avenue, Phoenix 85027. The draft plan can be found at: www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/planning/son_des.html
If you wish to receive news about the planning process, you may email BLM at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, you may call the BLM office at 623-580-5500, or leave a message on the Lower Sonoran Planning voice mail at 623-580-5526.