Bureau of Land Management Seeks Public Input for Revision of a Portion of the Sonoran Desert National Monument Resource Monument Plan
February 1, 2016
Due to a ruling from the U.S. District Court - District of Arizona issued in March 2015, the BLM will develop new management actions to address recreational target shooting in the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM) Resource Management Plan (RMP). An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be written to assess the potential impacts of each alternative. Upon completion of the EIS, an alternative will be selected that best balances the environmental impacts with the desired use of the land, and the SDNM RMP will be amended to allow, disallow, or apply restrictions to recreational target shooting.
This planning effort will focus solely on recreational shooting and impacted resources in order to respond to the short time frame for the expiration of the latest temporary closure and to address critical public safety concerns rather than waiting for a field office-wide plan revision. Public involvement will be a critical component of the plan amendment process. The BLM will work closely with private landowners; local city, county and state governments; tribal members; members of the target shooting community; environmental and cultural resources preservation organizations; and interested individuals and members of the general recreating public.
On March 27, 2015, the U.S. District Court - District of Arizona issued a ruling in the case of National Trust for Historic Preservation et al v. Raymond Suazo, BLM and DOI. The court found BLM violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when making its decision to allow recreational target shooting on the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM). The court found in favor of the BLM on plaintiffs’ claim that BLM violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The court vacated portions of the Record of Decision (ROD), Resource Management Plan (RMP) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that permit recreational target shooting throughout the Monument and remanded the decision to BLM for reconsideration. The court also required BLM to ensure the Final EIS’s analysis of mitigation measures and cumulative impacts are consistent with the order.
On July 17, 2015, the court granted plaintiffs’ April 14, 2015 request for injunctive relief and ordered the BLM to close approximately 10,599 acres (2.1%) of the SDNM to recreational target shooting pending compliance with the court’s order of March 27. In their motion for injunctive relief placed before the court, plaintiffs had requested a closure of approximately 80% of the SDNM. This order also provided a deadline of September 15, 2015 to implement the closure, and a deadline of September 30, 2017 to address the planning shortfalls discussed in the court’s earlier order of March 27. Licensed hunting will continue in accordance with state regulations. Approximately 95 percent of the 12.2 million acres of public land managed by BLM in Arizona remains open to recreational target shooting.
Project Location: Sonoran Desert National Monument, Maricopa County, Arizona