As an Arizona native, one of the things I have always enjoyed about the great State of Arizona is the amount of public open space that’s easily accessible. Whether you’re into hiking, mountain biking, four wheeling, or recreational shooting – Arizona has many fantastic places that everyone can take advantage of and enjoy with their family and friends. However, just because we have access now doesn’t ensure that we’ll always have access in the future. It’s important to take a proactive approach towards educating and fostering a good working relationship between the various entities that manage the land and the public at large.
Tread Lightly!, a national nonprofit organization with a mission to promote responsible recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs, has teamed up with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the US Forest Service in an effort to keep Arizona’s public and private lands open for people who responsibly enjoy recreational shooting.
Through the use outreach, education, and engagement strategies to foster good stewardship and site-stewards through volunteerism, Tread Lighly! and its partners are working together to ensure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy recreational shooting in the great outdoors. However, they can’t do it alone without your involvement and help.
Next month, Tread Lightly! and the AGFD are hosting a fun-shoot, dinner, and auction to help raise awareness about protecting public access and generate funding to provide long-term implementation strategies of the Respected Access is Open Access campaign. The event takes place on April 12th at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility on the northern side of Phoenix just off the I-17 freeway. Companies looking to get involved in the form of sponsorships or raffle donations should contact Dianne Olsen, Tread Lightly! Assistant Director, at (800) 966-9900.
Now I know many of you are saying, “I don’t live in Arizona so this doesn’t matter to me.” That’s where you’re wrong – it does matter. Every opportunity the recreational shooting community has to come together and be proactive about keeping public and private lands open for access should be a call to action and supported. Just like in the off-road community, trail clean ups and events that help raise awareness and maintain open access are vital to us ensuring that we, and the generations to come, have the ability to freely enjoy and use these lands.
If you’re looking to do something local in your community like raise awareness or host a clean up, Tread Lightly! and their partners offer the Cleanups by Quadratec Stewardship Grant Program. These grants are designed to help individuals and groups organize clean-ups, trail maintenance work days and other small stewardship projects in their local communities. Grant requests can be submitted online and the current grant cycle runs until March 30th so there is still time to submit an application.
For more information about Tread Lightly!, their Respect Access is Open Access campaign, or how you can get involved in your own community, visit the Tread Lightly! website or call (800) 966-9900.