Shooting range’s proposed new site under fire

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 9/19/17

For the second week in a row, prospective neighbors of Fort Discovery’s proposed new site for a shooting and archery range on the north shore of Tarboo Lake shared concerns with Jefferson County …

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Shooting range’s proposed new site under fire

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For the second week in a row, prospective neighbors of Fort Discovery’s proposed new site for a shooting and archery range on the north shore of Tarboo Lake shared concerns with Jefferson County commissioners about the company’s plans on 40 acres of forested property.

Teri Hein, who lives on a farm on Old Tarboo Road near Quilcene with her husband, first addressed the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at its Sept. 11 meeting.

“There seems to be the idea that this is a remote area where few people live, but this is not true,” Hein said. “We are a very active community living in Tarboo Valley, that has worked hard to create a sustainable, environmentally healthy place where families can thrive, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect this special place we call home.”

Hein returned for the Sept. 18 commissioners’ meeting, joined by more than half a dozen of her neighbors, including Tami Pokorny, who said she was speaking as a private citizen and not as a county employee.

Pokorny, Fern Stroble and Susan Freeman expressed concerns about the proposed facility possibly compromising the ecological integrity of Tarboo Lake. Freeman also pointed out that the county’s Conservation Futures fund has already invested in the Tarboo watershed by preserving creek easements and enlisting volunteer tree plantings along its banks.

Residents also objected to an anticipated increase in noise levels, with Stroble noting that her husband is a Vietnam veteran who does not respond well to hearing gunfire; and Freeman’s husband, Scott Freeman, worrying about the impact on his 200-acre forestry business.

“It’s only 40 acres that they’re proposing now, but little by little, this is how it happens,” Scott Freeman said. “In our business, we offer timber specialists tours through our forest, and the noise pollution from a gun range would affect our ability to do business.”

Nancy Wyatt and Diane Johnson said they have no objections to gun owners, gun ranges or hunters who use guns, so long as none of them disrupt the “peace” that they both cited as among the area’s most precious characteristics.

Wyatt recalled a meeting that she and Johnson had with Fort Discovery owner Joe D’Amico on Sept. 10, which lasted an estimated hour and a half, during which time Wyatt claimed that D’Amico had told them “there will be sounds, regardless of mitigation.”

Johnson likewise said that “at least 19” of her neighbors shared her concerns about the noise of a gun range.

“At least with logging or hunting seasons, there are time limits,” Johnson said. “This would be forever into the future.”

Hein returned briefly to the podium to express her support for all her neighbors’ public comments at the Sept. 18 meeting, with her husband, Jim Smith, offering an additional objection to the two helicopter landing pads indicated on the map submitted by D’Amico to the county June 9.

PLEDGES FROM FORT DISCOVERY

At the Sept. 18 meeting, Patrick Sullivan spoke as a representative of Fort Discovery, reiterating D’Amico’s pledges to work with the county and the site’s neighbors, and suggesting that a licensed shooting location could alleviate incidents of illegal and “dangerous” shooting in the area.

Resident Demetri Class disagreed, suggesting instead that increased noises of gunfire from a shooting range could invite more poaching.

Commissioner Kathleen Kler promised to forward the public comments to the Department of Community Development (DCD), which Commissioner David Sullivan recommended as the best venue for residents to direct their concerns about such a proposed facility.

“The state limits our ability to control noise from firearms,” Sullivan said. “We don’t create these laws retroactively.”

Kler echoed Susan Freeman’s comments to voice how much she “appreciated” the county’s preexisting investment in the Tarboo watershed, while Kate Dean pointed out, as Pokorny had, that the Tarboo Valley serves as a center for agriculture as well.

NEXT STEPS

In a Sept. 1 press release, D’Amico wrote, “We have support from 24th District state legislators and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe,” referring to his proposed new facility.

The county received a pre-application from D’Amico and is in the process of evaluating it, with the next steps to be taken in late September.

Fort Discovery Inc. manufactures, sells and maintains firearms, while Security Services Northwest Inc., another business D’Amico operates, provides security and dispatch services, according to the company.

Activities at the location where D’Amico operates his businesses now, on Discovery Bay, have been controversial and have resulted in complaints about noise.

“Our intent is to relocate the higher-intensity uses of Fort Discovery to this location, which is surrounded by commercial forestland,” D’Amico said in the press release.

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