Monday, June 29, 2009

CLOSE CALLS -- Recreational Area Closed to Target Shooting

AAI just received the following email from Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest:

Everett, Wa. June 29, 2009 — The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is closing several roads on the I-90 corridor to target shooters starting July 4th weekend. The closure area encompasses the valley bottom that follows the I-90 freeway corridor from exit 38 to the top of Snoqualmie Pass. The Tinkham and Denny Creek roads are included.

“We have a serious public safety concern,” said Snoqualmie District Ranger Jim Franzel. “If we don’t do something immediately, someone will get hurt. We are closing the smallest land area possible to prevent an injury and provide for public safety.” The target shooting closure area encompasses concentrated recreation uses with multiple roads, campgrounds, trailheads and picnic areas. Franzel said that the local geography doesn’t provide for natural target shooting backstops, so target shooters often use trees and vegetation as backstops, not realizing there may be a trailhead or people recreating within range.

Although unsafe target shooting has been a growing problem on national forest lands adjacent to I-90, recent near-misses of road repair workers and shooting across roads has elevated the concern. “Peak visitor use is during the summer and additional road repair and trail reconstruction is scheduled,” Franzel said. The closure involves a small part of the 332,000-acre Snoqualmie Ranger District.

Target shooting regulations remain unchanged everywhere else on the district. The Code of Federal Regulations prohibits discharging firearms within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned up to six months in jail. Signs are posted marking closed areas. Visitors can get a map at Snoqualmie Ranger District Office in North Bend and online at <> that show where target shooting is prohibited.

This is a temporary emergency closure. The forest will consider the need for a permanent closure in one year. Franzel said that target shooting in high-use recreation areas has increased over the years, along with associated environmental damage and dumped trash. For information regarding the closure, please call 425-888-1421 x230 or visit <> .

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