BLM seeks input on recreational target shooting at the Sonoran Desert National Monument
BLM will consider an amendment to the monument’s resource management plan.
PHOENIX – The Bureau of Land Management Lower Sonoran Field Office is seeking public input as it considers an amendment to the Sonoran Desert National Monument Resource Management Plan. The purpose of the amendment is to determine where and whether recreational target shooting should be allowed inside the monument, in order to meet the terms of an April 2022 court settlement.
A notice of intent to amend the resource management plan for the Sonoran Desert National Monument and to prepare an associated environmental assessment appears in the Federal Register on Wednesday. This notice begins a 30-day scoping period to solicit public input on issues, potential alternatives, and planning criteria to be addressed in the environmental assessment.
“While we have preliminary alternatives for the environmental assessment, we expect that public scoping will generate more alternatives for us to consider,” said Phoenix District Manager Leon Thomas. “This scoping period is an opportunity for the public to help guide land use decisions at the Sonoran Desert National Monument.”
The Sonoran Desert National Monument was established in 2001 and contains about 486,400 acres of BLM-managed public lands in Maricopa and Pinal counties. About 435,700 acres are currently available for recreational target shooting.
The BLM completed a resource management plan for the monument in 2012. Under a March 2015 court order, the BLM was required to reanalyze the impacts of recreational target shooting in the monument. In 2018, the BLM amended the resource management plan to allow dispersed recreational shooting in about 90 percent of the monument. That decision was challenged in 2019, and a settlement agreement in that case requires a new planning effort.
Interested parties may submit scoping comments on issues, alternatives, and planning criteria related to the plan amendment online at the BLM’s National NEPA Register, via email to BLM_AZ_SDNMtargetshooting@blm.gov, or via mail to BLM, Sonoran Desert National Monument, Attn.: RMPA EA, 2020 E. Bell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85022.
The BLM will also host virtual public meetings during the scoping period. Meetings will be announced at least 15 days in advance.
Following the public comment period, the BLM will consider all of the public comments and suggestions and develop a range of alternatives related to recreational target shooting at the monument. An environmental assessment and plan amendment will analyze the effects of each alternative and will be made available for further public review and comment.
Upon completion of the proposed plan amendment and environmental assessment, the BLM will select an alternative that manages recreational shooting while protecting monument objects and public health and safety.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.