County to request shooting range land

The Clallam County commissioners gave parks and fair manager Joel Winborn the go-ahead to continue pursuing the acquisition of 320 acres for a shooting facility.

In a letter addressed to the state Department of Natural Resources, the county officially will request that the agency reconvey 320 acres from the state trust forestland to county land.

About a dozen people from the public were present during the commission’s March 24 study session. Those in favor of the shooting range were excited at the opportunity, openly denouncing efforts from environmental advocates to relocate the county’s project.

“People who are not for this are going to invent the bogyman to delay this process,” said Lou Huber, president of the Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association. “We’ve been working toward this for years, we need progress toward a park and we will do it in a safe manner through the proper permit process.”

Josey Paul stood up and delivered a speech on best management practices for shooting ranges as described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Paul is concerned lead and arsenic will leach into the ground and contaminate wetlands down gradient of the proposed site near Sadie Creek on the west end of the county.

“At this site, the groundwater comes all the way to the surface and there is a gradient down to one of the most successful streams in regard to its capacity to carry fish,” Paul said. “Best management practices are the exact opposite of what would be done at this site.”

County Commissioner Steve Tharinger said nothing was set in stone. He said the commissioners are following the general procedure when looking into a new activity — plot the land, appraise the land, study environmental impact and put all actions up for public comment and review.

“The board’s intent is to take incremental steps toward a park, which doesn’t mean the park is a done deal,” Tharinger said. “My understanding is that we will go forward with a full evaluation of the possibility, get a survey and have an environmental impact study done.”

In previous meetings, Winborn said the process of reconveyance alone can take upwards of a year.

For more information on the county commissioners, their meetings and scheduling, visit or call 417-2233.

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