Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Bureau of Land Management reinforces importance of recreational shooting activities on public lands

The Bureau of Land Management on Thursday issued guidance designed to protect and expand recreational shooting opportunities on BLM-managed public lands.

More than 99 percent of the 245 million surface acres managed by the agency are currently open to recreational shooting, and this guidance will help ensure that these activities are allowed to continue wherever possible.

“Recreational shooting is a longstanding tradition for millions of Americans, and the department is proud to support this popular pastime as a key component of the BLM’s multiple-use mission,” said Casey Hammond, principal deputy assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management. “Working with local communities, our state agency partners, and other key stakeholders, we will continue to ensure that public lands remain open to recreational shooting, allowing Americans to pass down our nation’s rich outdoor heritage to future generations.”

The BLM has long prioritized recreational shooting as an important part of its land management mission under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, including on many lands under the National Conservation Lands umbrella: national monuments, national conservation areas and similar designations, national scenic and historic trails, wilderness, and wilderness study areas.

The guidance issued Thursday provides additional clarity for federal land managers evaluating recreational shooting activities as part of land use planning decisions and regarding the agency’s implementation of Public Law 116-9, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

“This guidance from the Bureau of Land Management is enthusiastically welcomed by America’s sportsmen and women. It will help to ensure and increase recreational shooting access and opportunities on public lands and preserve the important gains for sportsmen and women achieved during the Trump Administration through the leadership of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry’s trade association. “This guidance will enable our American hunting and shooting tradition and heritage as well as wildlife conservation to thrive for generations to come. Recreational shooting on public lands is directly tied to increased funding for wildlife conservation through the firearm industry’s growing Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund.”

“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is grateful for the efforts undertaken by the BLM to protect recreational target shooting opportunities by following the intent of Congress as provided in the Dingell Act (S.47),” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “With 99 percent of the 245 million acres of public land managed by the BLM open to recreational shooting, this guidance will ensure that America’s 32 million recreational shooters continue to have a place to safely participate in this outdoor tradition.”

“This is a great initiative from the administration to encourage and preserve our culture and our rights,” said Dianna Muller, founder of the DC Project, Women for Gun Rights and retired police officer. “With upwards of 8 million brand new gun owners in 2020, it’s going to be important that they have a place to practice their skill set and enjoy the outdoors with their family. Recreational shooting is great because the whole family can participate, and the injuries are substantially less than other organized sports.”

Subject to site-specific considerations, the BLM’s general policy is to enhance shooting opportunities, or at least avoid a net loss, in its land use planning decisions. State, district and field offices have been directed to incorporate specific evaluation standards into their land use planning decisions to ensure nationwide consistency in how recreational shooting is managed on public lands.

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