On the final day of 2020, the Bureau of Land Management issued guidance to its local, state, and district offices to preserve and expand recreational shooting opportunities on the millions of acres of public lands under the agency. When I say millions of acres, I should actually clarify that it is hundreds of millions, as BLM controls some 245 million acres, with some 99 percent of it open to some sort of recreational shooting.
This, of course, is a good thing as there are some 50~ million American sports shooters and hunters, most of whom are always looking for a good place to shoot.
This brings me to my soapbox. As someone who regularly visits a public range in DeSoto National Forest, provided by the USDA Forest Service, please, please leave it as or better than you found it.
For instance, this was the trash area at the Black Creek Range this weekend:
I cleaned up a lot of this and physically packed out my own trash as well as some other litter, but you get the point.
These ranges belong to everyone, so please make sure they are useable for your grandchildren as well.
The USFWS Range in Brooklyn, MS. I trek there often when my normal ranges are booked and love to spend a quiet morning there. It’s free, and public, funded by PRWRA dollars. Everyone should have easy access to such on public land, but sadly, this is not the case. (Photo: Chris Eger)
A bipartisan measure that could see the number of shooting ranges available on public land expanded was reported out of committee last week in the U.S. House.
The proposal would use money already made available to the federal government through the Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, commonly referred to as Pittman–Robertson after the two lawmakers pivotal to its passage. This 80-year-old law uses an excise tax levied on all firearms and ammunition sold or imported into the country to perform conservation-related tasks as varied as restoring elk habitat to funding safety programs and establishing public shooting ranges.
It is hoped by supporters of the bill that the move to up the number of public ranges will help turn around flagging numbers of hunters in the field.
More in my column at Guns.com