The Bureau of Land Management maintains land for general use to the public. Multiple people are making use of these lands for various reasons on any given day. BLM land offers visitors camping grounds, hiking trails, fishing areas and hunting opportunities. With so many things going on, safety becomes a big concern, especially for hikers who may inadvertently walk into danger.
To make sure everyone stays safe on public land, be mindful of some things that shouldn't happen near trails.
1. Recreational Target Shooting
Before planning to target shoot on recreational land, first make sure it is permitted in the area you plan to practice. BLM lands will usually permit it as long as it is away from recreation areas and there is no destruction of natural resources. It's illegal to destroy any objects on federal lands, no matter how insignificant to you they may seem.
Whether you're practicing with a pistol or archery, make sure there aren't any roads or trails in the vicinity where you plan to shoot. Though you will have a safe backdrop to use as your target, a stray bullet or arrow can travel a long distance and cause bodily harm to someone who wasn't aware of your presence. Keep any firearms in a pistol safe when they're not in use. This will prevent anyone else coming upon it and harming themselves.
2. Relieving Yourself
If you're a hiker, you can do your part to keep the experience a pleasant one for other hikers that come after you. This includes when you need to relieve yourself. Never relieve yourself near the trail. Always find an area that is away from water and at least a couple of hundred feet away from the trail.
Know the rules on solid waste. Generally, if the terrain of the land will permit it to be buried that should be fine, but in some canyons that's not an option and so you'll have to pack it out with you.
3. Certain Breaks
If you need to stop for a rest, step off the trail so you're not blocking others who will be coming through. If your break includes food, eat well away from the trail. Though you should never leave food waste on the land, crumbs will find their way onto the ground. Food crumbs will attract animals and nobody wants to face off with animals on the trail.
If your break includes having a cigarette, also plan to do that well away from the trail. The majority of hikers aren't smokers, and even if they were, nobody wants to inhale second hand smoke, especially when their lungs are working hard.
Most BLM lands allow for open hunting as long as you have the required permits. Just as with target practice, don't hunt near trails. Practice good gun safety and be aware of other people who may be simply exploring. Be sure you pick up a map of the area so you know when you are close to trails and recreation areas.
5. Riding ATVs
The riding of ATVs is permitted on BLM land, but you'll need to check with the specific BLM land office where you plan to visit to find out what restrictions there are. Some areas will be limited. Never ride your ATV on trails intended for hiking. This poses a major threat to the hikers and to the ATV rider. Hiking trails are small and have turns, an ATV may not be able to maneuver, and if there is a person around that turn, it could spell disaster.
ATVs are fun to own, but they should be used responsibly. The BLM will likely have open use areas as well as trails on which to enjoy some ATV fun.
When people with different goals are sharing a space, it can present special dangers. If you are aware of where certain types of recreation are allowed and not allowed, you can have a safe and enjoyable journey outdoors.
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