Feds look to drastically cut recreational target shooting within Arizona’s Sonoran Desert monument

Jan 22, 2024, 7:00 PM

Arizona's Sonoran Desert monument could see less target shooting...

Endangered desert bighorn rams live in the Sonoran Desert, which is at the heart of a new goal set by the federal Bureau of Land Management. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — The federal Bureau of Land Management is looking to drastically reduce an area open to recreational target shooting within Arizona’s Sonoran Desert National Monument.

The agency announced Friday that a proposed resource management plan amendment would allow target shooting on 5,295 acres (2,143 hectares) of the monument and be banned on the monument’s remaining 480,496 acres (194,450 hectares).

Currently, target shooting is permitted on 435,700 acres (176,321 hectares) of the monument that includes parts of Maricopa and Pinal counties.

Changes coming to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert monument

A BLM spokesperson said target shooting still is allowed on other bureau-managed lands in and around the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The Sonoran Desert National Monument was established in 2001.

Critics have argued that target shooting threatens cultural and natural resources the monument was designated to protect and has damaged objects such as saguaro cactus and Native American petroglyphs.

A notice announcing the beginning of a 60-day public comment period on the proposed target shooting closure was scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday.

The BLM, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states.

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Feds look to drastically cut recreational target shooting within Arizona’s Sonoran Desert monument