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Target shooting banned at southern Ariz. monument

TUCSON, Ariz. — The federal government is banning recreational target
shooting at Ironwood Forest National Monument in southern Arizona because of
damage to cacti, trees and rocks with prehistoric carvings.

The Bureau of Land Management said studies found that shooters damaged
resources at more than 30 sites and that designating a few areas for shooting
would just concentrate damage there.

The BLM’s decision is supported by conservationists and opposed by advocates
for gun owners, the Arizona Daily Star reported
Tuesday.

Todd Rathner, a national board member of the National Rifle Association, said
it’s absurd that there’s no place on a 129,000-acre monument for recreational
shooting.

“Obviously they bent to the will of extremists who have been putting pressure
on them,” Rathner said.

Rathner said the NRA would consider steps to overturn the ban, including a
lawsuit and possible congressional action.

For many monument fans and nature lovers, the shooting ban “will move us
light-years ahead of where we were,” said Lahsha Brown, executive director of
Friends of Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Gunfire in the monument has scared away people who thought it might be related
to smuggling, she said.

The target-shooting ban is part of the BLM’s first management plan for the
monument, which was created in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton.

Brian Bellew, BLM’s Tucson field office manager, said people caught target
shooting at the monument located in desert northwest of Tucson would initially
just be told of the ban.

Bellew said citation of violators will start after BLM publishes supplemental
rules and an enforcement schedule for the monument in the Federal Register.

The BLM proposed a similar ban in the larger Sonoran Desert National Monument
north of Ironwood Forest, but the agency withdrew the proposal last May because
of complaints by the NRA and other groups.

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