The National Rifle Association has filed a letter protesting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final resource management plan for Ironwood Forest National Monument that will close the entire monument to recreational shooting.
The NRA and many of its Arizona hunters and shooters were deeply engaged in the planning process when the draft plan for the monument was released for public comment in 2007. Closure of the monument to recreational shooting was protested at public meetings and in written comments, but the BLM ignored the wishes of those who enjoy the historic and important recreational uses of these public lands. NRA’s comments on the draft plan gave it standing to file a formal protest to BLM’s announced decision.
The BLM is justifying its decision to close shooters out of 128,000 acres of public land because it claims that shooting is a “resource-harming” activity. At the same time, the agency will allow other activities to continue, like camping and grazing, that clearly have more impact on the environment. The justification is contained in Appendix I to the decision; a document not available at the time the draft plan was available for public review and comment. As NRA’s protest letter states, “BLM backfilled the evidentiary support for banning shooting” and the public should have had the opportunity to review and comment on the document. Further, the NRA challenges the final decision as not complying with BLM’s own Federal Land Policy and Management Act which requires the agency to perform the required balancing of multiple uses to show, specifically in this case, that the benefit of prohibiting target shooting in the monument outweighs the substantial benefits of target shooting to the American people.
“The BLM has demonstrated from the beginning of the planning process that its intent was to ban recreational shooting in the Ironwood Forest National Monument. No amount of public engagement in support of recreational shooting altered the direction that BLM had decided in advance that it would go,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The BLM is charting the same course in its draft plan for the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Rest assured, that the NRA will protect the interests of shooters and hunters by pursuing whatever legislative or legal means are available.”
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America's oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.