June 11, 2015

Conservation Groups Comment on Management Plan for Colorado Recreational Shooting

On May 29, 32 national pro-sportsmen’s organizations, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), sent formal comments to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on the proposed management plan for recreational shooting in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests (ARNF) in Colorado.

The comments respond to a USFS press release issued on May 4, announcing the beginning of a public scoping process on a proposal to include Forest Plan management direction for recreational sport shooting, and requests comments from the public on the proposal.

Currently, the 1997 Forest Plan does not provide designated direction on how to manage recreational shooting sports on Forest Service land. Because the issue has become more prevalent in recent years, the letter directly requests that the USFS conduct a thorough analysis of the shooting access needed to maintain adequate shooting opportunities. Developing an effective, long-term management plan is inadequate without first understanding the volume of recreational shooting taking place in the planning area of ARNF. 

In 2006, 40 pro-sportsmen’s organizations, along with the Department of Interior (DOI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the USFS, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which created the Federal Lands Hunting, Fishing and Shooting Sports Roundtable. Renewed in 2014, the overarching goal of the Roundtable, as stated in the MOU, is, “for planning and implementing mutually beneficial projects and activities related to hunting, fishing, and shooting sports conducted on federal lands.” The letter references the Roundtable as a comprehensive source of expertise that should be fully utilized by the USFS when examining current and potential shooting areas during the scoping process.

CSF, along with the organizations signed onto the comments letter, are committed to working with the USFS throughout the entirety of the scoping process to ensure that land used by hunters and recreational shooters is protected and conserved for future generations.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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