NRA 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.
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, 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 NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. "The BLM is charting the same course in its draft plan for the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Rest assured that NRA will protect the interests of shooters and hunters by pursuing whatever legislative or legal means are available."