Friday, August 31, 2007

USFS Update!


Well, we appear to have won the war...but the battle that started the war is still raging.

Yesterday, I received from the NRA a memo, dated 29 August, from the Washington Office of the USFS, signed by Deputy Chief, National Forest System Joel Holtrop. I've printed the entire memo, which went out to " Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs, WO Staff Directors, Special Agents in Charge," below, but the gremaine quote is this:
Roads are not inherently considered occupied areas under 261.10(d) (1).
It took us 2 1/2 years, countless hours of work from myself, Bob Brown of SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, Diane Nichol of Defense Training Inc., John Higgs of Paladin Press and many others; the support of the Second Amendment Foundation and GUNWEEK, the NRA, NSSF, Colorado Shooting Sports Association, Firearms Coalition of Colorado, Rocky Mt. Gun Owners, a coalition of hunting groups and thousands of letter from the Internet. We have given testimony in 6 public hearing; Bob Brown and I testifed before a special hearing of the Colorado Legislature on the closings, etc.

Now here's the REAL news:

THE SHOOTING AREA ORIGINALLY ILLEGALLY CLOSED BY THE BOULDER RANGER DISTRICT, THE SHOOTING AREA THAT TRIGGERED THIS YEARS-LONG FIGHT, REMAINS CLOSED!

As of yesterday, it was posted for being within 150 yards of an occupied area, and the USFS confirmed that the area remained closed and any persons shooting there would be charged and fined.

The large sign made famous by SOLDER OF FORTUNE Magazine and on the Internet as emblematic of the fight — the one with me leaning against the sign, shown above — has been removed and we could find no trace of the posthole. USFS denies removing the sign, BTW. A smaller "No Shooting" sign remains at the site.

While we appreciate the Memorandum of Understanding that USFS has signed with the gun groups, the fact that no shooting area can be closed without a hearing among interested public parties, the fact that we now have a legal interpretation on the "roads" issue...but people in rural Boulder County STILL have no place to shoot...and hunting season is coming on...

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File Code:
2300/2600/2700/5300
Date: August 29, 2007
Route To:
Subject: Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting Sports
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs, WO Staff Directors, Special Agents in Charge

The goals of providing for recreational shooting, caring for the land, and public health and safety must be considered in a balanced manner. Therefore, any analysis of provisions of safe recreational shooting or restrictions on shooting requires the close attention of line officers consistent with the enclosed.

Where the local unit has the need for quick action for health and safety concerns, use of a closure order pursuant to 36 Code of Federal Regulation [CFR] 261.50, Subpart B. is warranted. 36 CFR Part 261 Subpart A includes general prohibitions which remain in place at all times. Roads are not inherently considered occupied areas under 261.10(d) (1). However, under 36 CFR 261.10(d)(2), discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property is prohibited across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge.

In order to facilitate involvement of shooting interests, I call your attention to the interagency hunting, fishing, and shooting sports Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed September 27, 2006. The purpose of the MOU is to revitalize our relationship with the Shooting Sports Roundtable, bring additional resources to bear on problem solving, and identify opportunities for shooting sports enthusiasts. Signatories include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the 40 hunting/conservation organizations of American Wildlife Conservation Partners [AWCP].

If you have any questions related to shooting sports, the Shooting Sports Roundtable, or specific situations, please contact Jamie Schwartz, National Forest System Shooting Sports Liaison, at (202) 205-1589 or jschwartz01@fs.fed.us.

[Joint signature by NFS and LE&I)

[Joel Holtrop] [ John Twiss]
[Deputy Chief, NFS] [LE&I]

cc: pdl wo rhr rec directors
Enclosure

Shooting sports are long standing and appropriate uses of National Forest System (NFS) lands. Shooting sports bring together the hunting, target shooting and general recreational shooting interests that have enjoyed these activities for many years. With ever increasing population, use, and urban interface development affecting NFS lands we must, now more than ever, work with our partners to facilitate safe and responsible use.

Where the local unit has the need for quick action for health and safety concerns, use of a closure order pursuant to 36 Code of Federal Regulation [CFR] 261.50, Subpart B. is warranted. Where permanent closures are contemplated, NEPA analysis including public involvement with consideration of alternatives is appropriate. Public involvement should include local chapters of affected user groups, local law enforcement officials, state fish and wildlife agencies, county commissions and other interested parties. During public involvement emphasize that shooting sports are generally considered to be legitimate uses of NFS lands. If a decision has been made to permanently close an area, a Forest Supervisor’s closure order is required. Information should be provided on alternative safe shooting areas.

36 CFR Part 261 Subpart A includes general prohibitions which remain in place at all times. The following are prohibited under Occupancy and Use section of 261.10(d) - Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property as follows:

(1) In or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area, or,
(2) Across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge.
(3) Into or within any cave.

Roads should not be considered inherently occupied areas under 261.10(d) (1). If there are concerns about public safety in areas along roads, units should work with the public and specific user groups through education and open communication to address problem situations, emphasize responsible use, and ultimately provide for public safety. If safety concerns related to roads other than the prohibitions listed in 36 CFR 261.10(d) (2) remain after public involvement and appropriate NEPA analysis, a Subpart B Forest Supervisor’s order should be designated.

An interagency hunting, fishing, and shooting sports Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed September 27, 2006. The purpose of the MOU is to revitalize our relationship with the Shooting Sports Roundtable, bring additional resources to bear on problem solving, and identify opportunities for shooting sports enthusiasts. Signatories include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the 40 hunting/conservation organizations of American Wildlife Conservation Partners [AWCP]. This MOU provides for the sharing of technical expertise regarding shooting areas: design and management; lead management including containment, recovery, and recycling techniques; and a general framework for future cooperation.

Through this MOU we will work together to:

• Provide public access and enhance opportunities on federal lands in a safe and environmentally sound manner;
• Maintain good communication and disseminate information on availability of opportunities;
• Identify contacts to serve as liaisons to collect and disseminate information;
• Identify unsafe or unsuitable locations used by shooting sports enthusiasts, and work together to resolve these issues;
• Identify areas where awareness and access are perceived to be inadequate and work together to improve access;
• Identify opportunities for a volunteer days and potential projects; and
• Promote outdoor ethics.

3 comments:

Kristopher said...

The insanity will continue until a Republican President begins mass firings.

Clinton did not hesitate to do this, and now we are saddled with a bunch of watermelon ( green outside, red inside ) district rangers.

The current crop needs to be weeded out, and replaced with folks promoted from the timber sections ... NOT wildlife ( greenies ) or recreation ( posie sniffing granola eaters ).

clark said...

Thank you for keeping after it.

Geoff said...

MB -

Contact the Wash DC folks you met with, ask them to intervene. Also, send them a bill for your time, and all of the other folks' time, to protest a clearly illegal action on the part of a local agent. They will never pay it, but it may help make the point.