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JVesquire
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 11:03 am 
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Posted in the Yakima Herald Republic, reprinted in the Seattle Times this weekend.

Quote:
Mark McLean recalls how his friends were hunting in the Wenas Wildlife Area when they found themselves running for cover as semiautomatic gunfire came screaming in their direction.

It’s just not a safe place, McLean recently told a state-appointed advisory group seeking solutions.

In the past 15 years, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has received 84 safety complaints about the Wenas Wildlife Area, including 15 firsthand cases of people feeling unsafe or having shots fired toward them. And it’s possible not all incidents are reported.

Officials said the area attracts more target shooters than any other wildlife area in Washington.

The challenge of finding solutions has fallen on an advisory committee of shooters, neighbors and recreational users, who began monthly meetings in May. Recommendations could come next month.

The group has reached consensus on several topics, such as the need for more education and signage, but remains divided on some critical issues, including the future of dispersed shooting throughout the 105,460-acre area north of Selah and how to improve designated target-shooting sites.

The wildlife department’s efforts to address safety, trash and illegal activity related to target shooting began in 2011. Last year, the department announced plans for two shooting ranges and a ban on dispersed shooting. But the resulting outcry forced a stalemate as opponents argued that shooters should have more options.

That led the department last fall to form the advisory group.

Supporters say there should be few restrictions on where shooting is allowed, providing people follow existing rules, such as not shooting at glass, appliances and other illegal targets and ensuring there’s a backstop to catch stray shots.

“Nobody wants to prohibit dispersed shooting,” Norm Peck, an Ellensburg resident representing the Kittitas Audubon Society, said during the committee’s July meeting. “We just want to make it safer and more concentrated.”

Plans slowly formed to designate and improve certain areas for target shooting. But it became clear some group members believe that wouldn’t be enough to draw shooters away from dangerous areas and prevent conflicts.

Walt Hyde, president of the Wenas Valley Backcountry Horsemen Chapter, said allowing shooting to continue on Buffalo Road near a popular trail for horses, bikers and hikers would effectively eliminate those three activities. Yakima Mule Deer Foundation state chair Rachel Voss and mountain-biking representative Brian Lund agreed, noting safety must be the top priority.

Jim Lydigsen, volunteer coordinator with the NRA, says it’s “unacceptable” to limit dispersed shooting that follows existing regulations. He thinks better education and communication among user groups would lead the clear majority of shooters to move to designated sites and eliminate conflict.

Bret Hollar, a 4-H firearms instructor in Ellensburg, agrees and notes it’s getting harder to find places to shoot.

Opponents of dispersed shooting don’t dispute the value of educating the public, but they worry about the few irresponsible shooters who would ignore signs and recommendations.

“I hate to say it, but I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere,” Hyde said, noting about half the committee supports no limitations while others would prefer to see shooting barred in problem areas.

Despite that lack of agreement,the wildlife department still plans to take several early draft recommendations from the panel to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in December.

Mike Livingston, wildlife Region III director, said they’ve already started the difficult process of changing the department’s target shooting rules to match those on Department of Natural Resources lands, which include a clearer definition of backstops. The committee also urged improving ways for the public to report concerns.
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DIYSteve
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 1:19 pm 
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Interesting. Wenas is a big birding hot spot during the spring migration, attracting hundreds of birders each May.

Norm Peck (quoted in the article) is a good guy. I've met him on a couple Kittitas Audubon bird walks. I concur with his comment, “Nobody wants to prohibit dispersed shooting. We just want to make it safer and more concentrated.” FWIW, I had no problem finding public land N of Eburg (away from Wenas) with a natural backstop to sight in my hunting rifle.
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JVesquire
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 1:33 pm 
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Peaked my interest because I got shot at going for a trail run near Goat Peak off I-90. These guys were shooting in the direction of the road they drove their ORV in on, bullets ricocheting up and over the road. Totally negligent and terrifying. I didn't bother reporting it to the Kittitas County Sheriff, figuring they wouldn't do a thing about it.
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treeswarper
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 1:49 pm 
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Let's face it.  Too many people are moving, or have moved here.  Time to implement my "for every one person who wants to move here, two must leave" policy.

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neek
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 2:43 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
for every one person who wants to move here, two must leave

How about "two must learn how to get along"?

JVesquire wrote:
I didn't bother reporting it to the Kittitas County Sheriff, figuring they wouldn't do a thing about it.

Is that a "my vote doesn't count" type thing?
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JVesquire
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 2:52 pm 
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No, I wasn't voting for the sheriff. I had no identities to pass along, and nothing useful to report that would lead to any action. Why bother?
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AlpineRose
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 3:19 pm 
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neek wrote:
How about "two must learn how to get along"?

Explain how to get along with someone who is shooting at you.  Please.
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treeswarper
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 3:26 pm 
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neek wrote:
How about "two must learn how to get along"?

That's not going to happen.  Try another solution that doesn't upset anyone.  Our places are getting shut down due to overuse and I'm meaning more than places for shooting.

Go away people.  I hear Maine is a nice place to be.  Or Alaska.  What about moving to Alaska where there is real wilderness?

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DIYSteve
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 3:36 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
Go away people. 

you first

JVEsq, I would have reported shooting without a backstop to the applicable jurisdiction. Maybe it would have gone somewhere. Maybe not. Kittitas Sheriff has responded to violations of the rule to not shoot rifles in the valley without a backstop.
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Chico
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 4:47 pm 
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One glaring problem is these folks don't appear to want to be represented at say DNR meetings. We have a bi-monthly meeting in Tumwater (one this coming Thursday) and all but shooters are at the table. Motorized and non-motorized folks getting together with DNR to discuss our issues. What a concept?

And I'm a shooter but I know better and use common sense. A lot of them don't appear to which is a problem.

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treeswarper
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 5:58 pm 
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Here's what happened here when there was unsafe shooting.  I do not think any charges were filed as it was considered to be self defense.

When the cops are not near

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kbatku
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 6:00 pm 
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The biggest problem with the area is that you can pull over almost anywhere are start blazing away - they need to designate the areas where shooting is allowed rather than the free-for-all we have out there right now.
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JVesquire
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 6:21 pm 
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Steve, yeah you're probably right, but I was pretty annoyed by the whole thing and figured not much would come of it.
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Naches Hiker
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 6:43 pm 
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If people would not have shot all the signs up and not cut the fence, it would be better organized. There used to be signs saying shooting allowed, no shooting, shotgun only, pistol only, etc.

I don't go out there as I do all my shooting at my buddies house. I used to and it was just fine. I should add I shoot sometimes on a different part of the Wenas in the winter time. Nobody goes where I go. It's also where we have some muzzy shoots.

The Muzzleloader Club that I belong to picks up a huge dumpster full of trash every year from sheep company.

Enforcement is the problem. If we had actual wdfw police who cared about serving the public, who were assigned to the area,  and did their job, it would be just fine out there.


I don't think one organized site is needed. Enforcement and education is the issue.

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Chico
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PostMon Nov 27, 2017 7:20 pm 
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Naches Hiker wrote:
Enforcement is the problem. If we had actual wdfw police who cared about serving the public, who were assigned to the area,  and did their job, it would be just fine out there.

Yes WDFW officers carry firearms but they are one person who typically has to face off with more than one armed person. Not sure I'd want the job. My opinion is they as a group need to come to the table just like other recreation users who already do attend meetings, volunteer and so forth. Problem is they are mostly "loners" who belong to no specific club. If they belonged to a club they'd be shooting on the club's property.

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