In April, the Custer Gallatin National Forest in Montana issued a special order temporarily prohibiting discharge of a firearm, air rifle or gas gun for the purpose of target shooting within the Hyalite drainage south of Bozeman.
The area receives high visitor use and is historically a popular area for target and recreational shooting because of its proximity to Bozeman.
In a press release issued this week, the Forest Service announced it is proposing to make the prohibition permanent on more than 34,000 acres of public land and has opened public comment on the proposed action. The temporary restriction remains in place until an environmental analysis is complete and a decision is reached, likely in January.
The press release issued by the Forest Service (USFS) stated the primary purpose of the target shooting restriction was regard for “public safety.”
“The Hyalite drainage receives more than 40,000 visitors monthly in the summer and over 20,000 visitors monthly in the winter. It is the most heavily recreated drainage on National Forest System lands in the state of Montana.”
A broader, county-wide planning effort for target shooting may occur in the future and is not part of this proposal, according to this week’s announcement. The proposed restriction does not limit the ability to carry or possess a legal firearm within the Hyalite drainage and does not affect legal hunting on Forest Service land.
Comments will be accepted until September 19, 2016 and can be mailed Gallatin National Forest, attn: Steve Christiansen, P.O. Box 130, Bozeman, MT 59771. Electronic comments can be emailed to [email protected], enter the phrase “Hyalite Shooting Restriction” in the subject line. Comments may also be faxed to (406) 587-6758.
An alert issued by the National Rifle Association this week encouraged comment participation from regional shooting enthusiasts to keep Federal public lands open to target shooting by the public.