Inside the BLM’s abrupt decision not to ban shooting in an Arizona national monument

shooting BLMBy Emily Guerin | High Country News

In his five years at Arizona’s Sonoran Desert National Monument, former manager Rich Hanson picked up a lot of trash. In just one cleanup, he and his staff gathered 12,000 pounds of bullet-riddled oil drums, fast-food garbage and computer monitors. “Slob shooters,” as Hanson, who retired last spring, calls them, have also harmed the very resources he was sworn to protect – amputating saguaro limbs, shattering rock faces and splintering the trunks of palo verde, mesquite and other desert trees. Visitors to monument wilderness areas or the popular Anza National Historic Trail often pass unsightly roadside dumps.

It’s a far cry from the “magnificent … untrammeled Sonoran desert landscape” President Clinton had in mind in 2001 when he designated a 487,000-acre national monument in the mountains, wide valleys and saguaro cactus forests southwest of Phoenix. Legal concerns made it impossible to set aside specific shooting areas, so, after much study, Hanson and his staff announced their intent to close the whole monument to shooting in a draft resource management plan released in August 2011.


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December 2013