TONTO NATIONAL FOREST UNIFIED PROPOSAL
TONTO NATIONAL FOREST UNIFIED PROPOSAL
TONTO NATIONAL FOREST UNIFIED PROPOSAL

Regarding:
Free-Range Marksmanship, Outdoor Target Practice and
Recreational Shooting Sports on the Tonto and Other Arizona
National Forest Public Lands

This proposal reflects a general consensus of hundreds of concerned Arizonans who have reviewed its contents. Arizonans statewide look forward to working with National Forests in the state, in a cooperative effort, to promote firearms safety, to encourage firearms education, to ensure the continuation of noble and important traditions with long historical roots, and to provide for continued and long-term enjoyment by the public, of the National Forests of this great state.


PART A -- Maintaining Appropriate Land Use

1. Multiple use of public lands is the routine, current and proper policy for Tonto National Forest, other National Forests, and other public lands in the state of Arizona. Multiple use is widely recognized and endorsed by stewards of public lands.

2. On Nov. 16, 2000, in testimony before the Arizona State Legislature Special Hearing on Shooting Sports on Public Lands, Tonto Forest Supervisor Karl Siderits testified, "Safe, responsible, recreational shooting is a valid use of National Forest Service public lands."

3. Free-range marksmanship, outdoor target practice and recreational shooting sports in the National Forests are valid and proper uses of these public lands, enjoy a long and unbroken tradition, history, culture and current use, and should be maintained. One popular location near Bartlett Lake Road is known to have been in continuous use since before World War II, and numerous other long-term sites are common.

4. No discrimination against users of such sites is known, nor would any discrimination against such users be appropriate policy or behavior.

5. A natural, predictable and normative result of population increases in the United States is increases in the use of public lands by the people. The fact that the U.S. population continues to rise is a wholly unacceptable grounds for closing public lands. The suggestion that public lands be closed to the public because people increasingly use them, if such a suggestion were made, would reflect the worst aspects of bureaucratic excess, would be an affront to the people, opposes the will of the Congress, and should be rejected categorically.

6. Forced changes to the completely natural patterns of use, or any actions which would cause migration away from the numerous traditional and safe sites appear inadvisable and should be avoided. Any Forest Service actions which would subject relatively pristine areas of the forest to intensified use appear inadvisable and should be avoided. Any Forest Service actions which would tend to force the public away from preferred sites with easy proximity appear inadvisable and should be avoided.

PART B -- Enforcement Against Abuse

7. The Forest Service has announced its awareness of certain reckless, negligent, abusive and criminal conduct at some well-known locations. The Forest Service should post warnings and take other steps to give notice against such illegal conduct, implement regular patrols of these areas to deter such behavior by showing a Forest Service presence, use appropriate surveillance techniques to identify such abuse, and enforce the law through warnings, citations, fines, and when appropriate, arrests and prosecutions, when such illegal conduct is encountered and is severe.

8. The existence of reckless, negligent or criminal misuse of public lands, or the Forest Service's failure or inability to enforce laws against reckless, negligent or criminal misuse of public lands, is not a valid or acceptable cause for closing public lands to any lawful use by the law-abiding public. Failure to enforce laws against known reckless, negligent or criminal misuse of public lands may constitute a violation or may create legal exposure for those responsible for failing to enforce the applicable laws, and merits close attention.

9. Closure of any National Forest public lands to free-range marksmanship, outdoor target practice and recreational shooting sports, due to the number of existing federal law enforcement employees, or the number of any other type of federal or other employees, is arbitrary and capricious, and is not a valid or acceptable grounds for closure. While the Forest Service may seek to adjust its staffing levels upwards or downwards for numerous reasons, claims of employee shortages or excesses are not sufficient or valid grounds for closing our public lands to lawful use.

PART C -- Suggestions For Needed Improvements

10. In addition to traditional and completely unfettered access for free-range marksmanship, outdoor target practice and recreational shooting sports in the National Forests, the Forest Service has an obvious and immediate need to establish a number of designated unsupervised marksmanship areas, with certain minimal facilities provided. This will help concentrate such activity and tend to reduce interactions with other forest users. These "use-at-your-own-risk" facilities should be located at areas with good backstops, and include, at a minimum, reasonable accessibility by motor vehicle, posted gun safety rules and basic range rules, frames and supports for suspending targets, concrete or similarly durable outdoor benches, shade ramadas and trash receptacles.

11. In addition to traditional and completely unfettered access for free-range marksmanship, outdoor target practice, recreational shooting sports, and a number of designated unsupervised marksmanship areas in the National Forests, the Forest Service should create a list of feasible sites, obtain funding through Byrne Grants, or cooperative agreements with the Arizona Game and Fish Dept., The Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association, or other private or public sources, and commence development of at least one official and supervised range on each Forest Service property in accordance with existing guidelines under FSM 2335.4-Target Ranges, et. seq.; FSH 2709.11 Chapter 40 - Special Uses Administration - On Target Ranges; and under the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 251.54.

12. As part of its educational and stewardship missions, the Forest Service should, at the earliest possible date, and in cooperation with recognized marksmanship training experts, begin providing educational opportunities, and educational literature, for people interested in free-range marksmanship, outdoor target practice and recreational shooting sports in the National Forests. A certificate for successful completion of such educational opportunities, suitable for framing, should be made available to people who participate in such programs, but such certificate shall have no function other than its suitability for framing.

13. As part of its educational and stewardship missions, the Forest Service should, at the earliest possible date, and in cooperation with recognized marksmanship training experts, approach the Arizona public and private school systems, and offer to provide educational opportunities, and educational literature, along with marksmanship opportunities on Forest Service public lands. In light of widespread ignorance among school children and their teachers, of the proper role and safe use of firearms, and in consideration of tragic accidents involving children of school age, this proposal is considered of paramount importance. A certificate for successful completion of such educational opportunities, suitable for framing, should be made available to people who participate in such programs, but such certificate shall have no function other than its suitability for framing.

14. It is widely recognized that any use of land creates plainly obvious signs of that use, and this is normative. People within Arizona, eager to enjoy a safe and wholesome outdoor shooting experience, call on the Forest Service to announce, promote and organize voluntary cleanup days of traditional shooting areas. Reusable target materials found at such areas should not be removed during such periodic cleanups. A certificate for participation in such efforts, suitable for framing, should be made available to those who volunteer their time and energy, but such certificate shall have no function other than its suitability for framing.

Respectfully submitted,

Alan Korwin, Author
The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide
Gun Laws of America


This proposal is endorsed by:
The Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association
Terry Allison, President

 

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