This is a reminder that comments on the Anderson Butte Safety Project Environmental Assessment are due to BLM by 4:30 January 11, 2021, or one week from today. If you have not already submitted comments, we have developed a number of points that you might find useful in preparing comments. These are provided below. Thank you for submitting comments on this important public safety issue.
We appreciate the Medford District BLM’s effort to address this very serious public safety issue, but we strongly believe that the limited closure areas and duration will not be able to fully address the problem for the following reasons:
- Closing only the most commonly used target shooting locations will only be likely to push target shooters to other areas. This wasn’t analyzed in the EA with the justification that it cannot be known, but SUTA volunteers and local residents have seen and experienced, and reported, unsafe shooting at locations other than the 11 areas planned for this closure. This includes instances where target shooters simply stop in or along the road and select a random target (tree, gate, etc), and in some cases this includes shooting across the road. For this reason, we recommend closing all existing roads and trails with a buffer (250 feet is suggested as a reasonable distance) to discourage unsafe practices.
- There must be a strong monitoring and enforcement effort to ensure this closure can be effective. In addition to patrols by BLM law enforcement and/or Jackson County Sherriff’s department, surveillance cameras are recommended to document any continued unsafe shooting activity. This is not described in any detail in the EA and if there is no means for enforcement the closure is very likely to be ignored by some target shooters.
- This planned closure would be in effect for only 2 years. Considering that it has taken well more than 2 years to get to the EA, planning for a permanent solution to this issue must begin immediately. There is no discussion about developing a permanent solution and only a passing reference. The language of the ROD should reflect BLM’s commitment to developing a long-term resolution to this public safety issue with specifics on how this might be approached. We appreciate the fact that this is a sensitive and controversial issue,
- There will need to be a strong public education component to this closure to reinforce the need for taking this action, as well as clearly describe what comprises a safe shooting location. This must emphasize that the closure is a public safety issue, and not a 2nd amendment issue. Nobody would be prohibited from lawful possession of a firearm.
- Education efforts will also need to describe clearly why Anderson Butte is so challenging to find a safe spot to shoot. These challenges include:
- Challenging topography of steep ridges and deeply incised valleys (not everyone understands how to read a topo map, some photos and more description would be useful);
- A large road system weaving in and out of multiple blind curves to get around the deeply ridged topography with the only flat areas being on the roads or former logging landings or other man-made cuts;
- Majority of the roads are located higher than the surrounding private land and often above the location of the trails, so bullets missing their target fall below.
- Forests on steep slopes making visibility of trails, roads or homes below challenging both for shooters and those wanting to avoid being shot. The occasional steep non-forested areas provide no cover if you happen to worry about being shot at from above;
- Challenging acoustics – the sound of gunfire bounces and echoes off the ridges and valleys (especially from automatic weapons) making it difficult to determine what direction shooting is coming from. Combined with the inability to see where shooters are aiming, it becomes risky to continue down a road or trail or to walk across your own back yard!
- The close proximity to hundreds of private residences all around the entire Anderson Butte Ridge complex including all of houses along Little Applegate Road, Sterling Creek Road, Griffin Lane and Griffin Creek Road. On Griffin Lane and the adjacent area off Sterling Creek Road, there are over 50 houses within 1 mile of one popular shooting site on Anderson Butte.
- Large signs to announce the closure areas and reasons for the closure should be installed in general along the primary BLM roads, as well as signs at each closed location. Previous experience suggests these signs will need to be replaced multiple times since target shooters are likely to use them as targets and destroy them. BLM should plan for ongoing monitoring and quickly replace damaged signs.
- There must be a clear and publicized ability for local residents or recreation users to report continued unsafe activities to BLM and/or Jackson County Sherriff’s Department, and for law enforcement to rapidly respond to any reported incidents. Due to the limited closure, and the fact that shooting can still occur, any continued incidents can be reported only if individuals directly observe illegal activities.
The process for providing comments is described in the Ashland Field Office email. SEE the information and LINK below. Comments are due by 4:30 PM January 11th, 2021.
> > > USE THIS QUICK LINK: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/123432/595 to place your comments under “Participate Now”
We urge you to review the EA and provide your comments to address this very serious issue.
The Ashland Field Office, Medford District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is requesting public comments on the Anderson Butte Safety Project Environmental Assessment (EA). The Anderson Butte Safety Project is located on BLM-administered lands southeast of Medford, Oregon, east of Sterling Creek Road and northwest of Little Applegate Road, in Jackson County, Oregon.
Attached is the public notification letter for the open comment period. The EA is available to review and can be accessed electronically on the BLM’s National ePlanning register at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/123432/510 or by searching ePlanning by the project number: DOI-BLM-ORWA-M060-2019-0005-EA. Paper copies are also available upon request.
Please direct EA requests, comments, or questions to Tye Morgan, Ashland Planning and Environmental Specialist by mailing the BLM, Attn: Tye Morgan, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, Oregon 97504; by calling (541) 618-2229; or through email at: BLM_OR_AFO_anderson_butte_sp@blm.gov (Subject: Anderson Butte Safety Project). You may also submit comments via BLM’s ePlanning register on the project’s website using the “Participate Now” tab, or in the Documents section of the webpage.
> > > USE THIS QUICK LINK: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/123432/595
For comments to be considered before the final decision on the proposal, please submit them by 4:30 p.m. on January 11th, 2020.
Please note: Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, please be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. AUTHORITY: 40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10, 43 CFR 1610.2, 43 CFR 1610.5