King County Parks is proposing to limit deer hunting at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island to a 17-day period in October, when all other access to the public open space would be prohibited.
StoryKing County Parks is proposing to limit deer hunting at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island to a 17-day period in October, when all other access to the public open space would be prohibited.
Under the County’s proposal, hunting would occur Oct. 15-31, and hunters would be required to purchase a modern firearm hunting license. Bows and arrows, crossbows, muzzleloaders, revolver-type handguns or shotguns would be allowed; center-fire or rim-fire rifles are prohibited on Vashon Island.
King County’s proposed hunting season coincides with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s designated hunting season in which all firearms can be used, except rifles. To help ensure public safety, no other access to Island Center Forest would be permitted during proposed abbreviated 17-day hunting season, over three weekends from Oct. 15 to 31.
The proposal, which is based on input from the public and state wildlife management officials, is intended to address public safety at the popular recreation site, while allowing the deer hunt to continue on the only public land on Vashon Island that has traditionally been accessible to hunting.
King County will solicit public input on this proposal through the State Environmental Policy Act. The SEPA document is expected to be available in mid-September on the King County Parks’ website, www.kingcounty.gov/parks. Send comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via U.S. Mail to Kevin Brown, King County Parks, 201 S. Jackson St., Suite 700, Seattle, WA, 98104-3856.
In 2010, King County temporarily suspended its authorization allowing the discharge of weapons in Island Center Forest – effectively canceling the annual deer hunting season, which for many years has taken place using a variety of weapons – except rifles – for about four months in late summer, fall and early winter.
The County’s decision to effectively cancel the 2010 hunting season at Island Center Forest was made because of safety concerns from neighbors and trail users who noted that increased year-round use of the land by non-hunters could create unsafe conditions in the woods during the long period when hunting was allowed.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has already established a 2011 deer hunting season on Vashon Island beginning Sept. 1 and ending Dec. 31, with separate periods set aside for archery, muzzleloaders and modern firearms.
However, the discharge of weapons at Island Center Forest would only be allowed as regulated by King County, and deer hunting at Island Center Forest would not be allowed during any of the specially designated archery or muzzleloader seasons from September to December, or during the modern firearm period in November.
No deer hunting will be allowed while King County conducts a public review of its proposal, and the County will evaluate the effectiveness of its decision this year when considering any hunting in 2012.
Additionally, hunting is not permitted within the adjacent 81-acre natural area, and recreational trails there would remain open throughout the year under King County’s proposal.
Vashon Island’s largest public open space, Island Center Forest and Natural Area has nine miles of trails that are shared by hikers, mountain bikers, runners and equestrians.
Formerly owned by Washington State, Island Center Forest is the only public land on Vashon Island that has historically allowed deer hunting. Washington State Department of Natural Resources transferred 200 acres of state trust lands to King County in 2004. An additional 88 acres were transferred to King County Parks’ management from the County’s Solid Waste Division.
King County Parks manages the land in collaboration with community partners who make up the Friends of Island Center Forest, a diverse group that includes the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon–Maury Island Audubon, equestrians and outdoor enthusiasts, among many other community members. Learn more about Island Center Forest at http://www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/trails/backcountry/islandcenterforest.aspx.
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King County Parks - Your Big Backyard - offers more than 200 parks and 26,000 acres of parks and natural lands, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails and a world-class aquatic center. By cultivating strong relationships with non-profit, corporate and community partners, King County Parks enhances park amenities while reducing costs. Learn more at http://www.kingcounty.gov/parks/.