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Field reports: Slobs force decision on no-shooting zone

SHOOTING – Shooters trashing state lands and terrorizing adjacent private property owners are blasting their way out of a place to shoot.

Spokane County Commissioners will consider proposals for two new no-shooting zones during its 2 p.m. meeting on Tuesday.

The problems stem from state Department of Natural Resources lands off Koth Road near Newman Lake and off Star Road south of Mica Peak.

Property owners are calling for the action after more than a year of effort to curb the abuse and safety concerns. Despite increased enforcement and citations for littering, damaging trees, using motorized vehicles in closed areas and failure to have a Discover Pass, shooters continued to trash the public land, said DNR lands manager Loren Torgerson.

“Organized shooting clubs tried to help out; they even went out and cleaned things up,” Torgerson said.

“We tried to make it work, but it’s overwhelming.”

Proposals would allow shotgun shooting during appropriate hunting seasons but no rifle or pistol shooting at any time, said Bob Brueggeman, county engineer. Archery is OK.

Fish and Wildlife officials said they’d prefer a rule that allowed use of rifles for hunting. But Brueggeman said county ordinances do not allow that option to be considered in a no-shooting zone.

“Most shooters are responsible, but a subset of that group isn’t being responsible,” Torgerson said, noting they use garbage as targets and leave the trash. Semi-automatic weapons are used to blast and “saw down” trees, he said.

Tribe to celebrate Chief Joseph Hatchery

FISHING – The Chief Joseph Hatchery, designed to release up to 2.9 million chinook salmon into the Columbia River, will be dedicated and tours will be offered on Thursday during a celebration organized by the Colville Confederated Tribes.

The $50 million state-of-the-art hatchery, between Bridgeport and Chief Joseph Dam, has been built with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration in cooperation with state and federal agencies. It will be managed by the tribe.

The facility will provide chinook for the tribe, boost Columbia sport fishing and facilitate reintroduction of spring chinook to the Okanogan River.

The celebration begins at 8 a.m. Visitors can park at the Quik-E-Mart in Bridgeport and take shuttles to the hatchery.

The tribe will offer a prayer and capture and fillet the first salmon. Speakers start at 10:30. Lunch programs start at noon.

Tours run 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

Dworshak Reservoir at peak levels

BOATING – Dworshak Reservoir has filled to full pool, which puts boaters into the period of the best access to the campsites along the reservoir up the North Fork of the Clearwater River. 

Around July 8, the reservoir will gradually be drawn down to provide cool water for downstream salmon, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The annual drawdown leaves many of the minicamp sites vacant because of the uphill walk from the water.

Info: (208) 476-1255.