Spokane County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to add nearly 1,000 acres to the county’s no-shooting zone, after shooting activity, litter and vandalism increased sharply in recent years.
One 553-acre area is in the northeast part of the county along Koth Road near Newman Lake. The other area is on the south flank of Mica Peak along Starr Road and involves 435 acres.
Both areas are owned by the state Department of Natural Resources.
Commissioners Shelly O’Quinn and Todd Mielke voted in favor of placing the areas in the no-shooting zone, although shotgun use during hunting seasons is still permitted. Commissioner Al French was out of Spokane on county business and did not vote.
Mielke said he normally is against limiting shooting on public land in rural areas, but the apparent behavior occurring at both locations showed irresponsibility.
“It’s appropriate to send a message these properties were never intended for this type of abuse,” he said.
Photographs submitted to the commissioners showed huge numbers of discarded shotgun shells. A large cedar tree had one side blown out of it from gunfire. Other trees were destroyed.
A resident who lives near the DNR site in the Newman Lake area said in a brief interview after the vote that “we can literally hear the bullets ricocheting through the woods.”
A farmer who lives in the area said the gunfire was making his livelihood dangerous.
Both men declined to give their names to avoid the risk of retaliation, they said.
The county’s No Shooting Area Advisory Committee held a public hearing earlier this month on the requests from nearby residents to declare them no-shooting zones.