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BLM approves Phoenix area recreational shooting sports project

Sedona AZ – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Phoenix District has published a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Decision Record approving the Recreational Shooting Sports Project, clearing the way for the construction and operation of five recreational shooting sites to be built on public lands near the Phoenix metro area. The sites will provide active management, enhanced access and increased safety for shooting sports enthusiasts and other public land users near one of the most populated metro areas in the nation.

The project is consistent with Secretary’s Order 3356, and the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

“Under the BLM’s multiple-use mission, we work to strike a balance in land use and resource management. Phoenix is one of the most populated and fastest growing metro areas in the nation. This growth has spurred increased demand for recreation access on adjacent public lands. We listened to feedback from Valley residents and the shooting sports community while developing this project, which provides active management options to enhance recreation access and safety for all public land users,” explained BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley.

“Recreational shooting is one of the most popular and rapidly growing pastimes in America, and sales of firearms and ammunition generated more than $650 million in the past fiscal year alone to support habitat acquisition, development, and operation of wildlife management and public recreation areas in all 50 states,” said Casey Hammond, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management. “We’re proud to provide innovative new ways for all Americans to safely enjoy recreational shooting on public lands.”

A 2018 report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation found a 28% increase in target shooting participation since 2001, and an 80% increase among women and girls. More people participate in target shooting than play tennis, soccer or baseball, according to the report.

Based on environmental analysis and public input received through the planning process, the BLM determined there would be no significant impacts associated with the construction, maintenance and operation of the five sites. These sites; Baldy Mountain, Church Camp Road, Saddleback Mountain sites in North Phoenix, Narramore Road site in West Phoenix, and a Box Canyon site near Maricopa were selected because they are located in easily accessible areas and have minimal conflicts with other recreation activities and land uses, or natural and cultural resources.

Construction of the first site, Baldy Mountain, is anticipated to begin this spring. The BLM will complete plans addressing operations, safety, environmental stewardship and monitoring at the sites prior to construction.

Several documents associated with this project, including maps of the five shooting sports sites, are available online at the BLM’s ePlanning website at https://go.usa.gov/xmfVv. During the planning process, the BLM held a 15-day public comment period and received 23 comments to consider. A summary of those comments is also available at the ePlanning website.

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

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.

In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.

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