The Bureau of Land Management issued guidelines on Thursday to protect and expand recreational shooting opportunities in public areas managed by the BLM.
More than 99 percent of the 245 million hectares managed by the agency are currently open for recreational photography. These guidelines will help ensure that these activities can be continued whenever possible.
“Recreational shooting is a tradition for millions of Americans, and the department is proud to support this popular pastime as a key component of the BLM’s multipurpose mission,” said Casey Hammond, assistant chief secretary for land and minerals. “Working with local communities, our state agency partners, and other key stakeholders, we will continue to ensure that public land remains open to recreational shooting so that Americans can pass on our land’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 in many areas under the umbrella of the National Conservation Lands: national monuments, national protected areas and similar designations, national scenic and historical hiking trails, wilderness and wilderness study areas.
The guidance, released Thursday, provides federal land administrators with additional clarity in evaluating recreational shooting activities as part of land use planning decisions and in the agency’s implementation of Act 116-9, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act.
“These instructions from the Bureau of Land Management have been received with enthusiasm by American athletes. This will help ensure and improve access to recreational shooting and opportunities on public land, and preserve the important athletic gains made during the Trump administration by the leadership of Home Secretary David Bernhardt, “said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Advisor to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry association. “This guide will enable our American hunting and shooting traditions and heritage and conservation to flourish for generations. Recreational shooting on public land is directly tied to an increase in wildlife conservation funding through the firearms industry’s growing Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. “
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is grateful for the efforts of the BLM to protect recreational target shooting opportunities by pursuing the intent of Congress provided in the Dingell Act (page 47),” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “With 99 percent of the 245 million acres of public land managed by the BLM open for recreational shooting, this guide 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 government initiative to promote and preserve our culture and rights,” said Dianna Muller, founder of the DC Women for Gun Rights project and retired police officer. “With more than 8 million brand new gun owners in 2020, it will be important for them to have a place where they can practice their skills and enjoy the outdoors with their family. Recreational shooting is great because the whole family can participate and the injuries are far fewer than other organized sports. “
Subject to site-specific considerations, the BLM’s general policy is to improve shooting opportunities in their land use planning decisions, or at least to avoid net loss. State, county and field offices have been directed to incorporate specific assessment standards into their land use planning decisions to ensure nationwide coherence in the management of recreational shots in public spaces.