The people who love the Ironwood Forest National Monument received good news last week. The Resource Management Plan which will guide the management of the monument for years to come was approved. One important feature of this plan is that recreational target shooting is prohibited in the Ironwood Forest National Monument. The Bureau of Land Management determined through careful analysis that the monument’s natural and cultural resources could not be protected if target shooting continued.
For those of us who feel the same way about the Sonoran Desert National Monument as the supporters of the Ironwood Forest National Monument do, this decision is bittersweet.
The same careful analysis was done for the Sonoran Desert National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management staff reached the same conclusion that recreational target shooting should be banned because there were no suitable places on the monument were target shooting could take place without damaging the monument’s natural and cultural resources. The Bureau of Land Management was set to release their final recommendations, which included a target shooting ban, when orders from Washington, DC instructed them not to release the publicly reviewed plan and to take the shooting ban out of the resource management plan.
Apparently politics took a more prominent role in resource decision making than did the resources the Bureau of Land Management is mandated to steward.
Should the Bureau of Land Management’s management decisions be consistent and based upon an approved methodology or are we to expect our natural and cultural resources to be managed capriciously to satisfy whichever political whim is expedient? I do not think so.