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King County seeks public comment on continued Island Center Forest deer hunt

Summary

King County Parks wants to hear from the community about continuing a limited deer-hunting season at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island, where the roughly two-week-long seasons have occurred for each of the past six years.

Story

Maintaining its commitment to continuing a dialogue with the community, King County Parks wants to hear from the public on a proposal to continue a limited deer-hunting season annually at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island.

King County has set a public meeting for Sept. 19 on Vashon Island; an online civic engagement forum; and a two-week public comment period all to help Parks managers determine if limited deer-hunting seasons should continue as they have since 2011 at Island Center Forest.

In a plan created with community input and with public safety in mind, a 17-day-long deer hunting season was first set for 2011 in Island Center Forest, while all other recreational access to the King County-managed land was restricted.

Following another round of public feedback after the first limited hunting season, King County established a five-year pilot project of hunting seasons beginning in 2012, during which time Parks employees monitored hunter use, harvest rates, and other facets of the limited seasons.

With the five-year pilot project completed, King County Parks is again seeking the public’s opinions on continuing the limited deer hunt in Island Center Forest.

If approved, the 2017 deer-hunting season at Island Center Forest would run from Oct. 14-31.

King County has established several ways for the public to learn more about the proposal, and to provide feedback:

• A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 19 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at McMurray Middle School, 9329 Cemetery Rd., Vashon.

• The deer-hunting proposal will also be a highlighted topic through King County Connects – an online forum for civic engagement that gives participants the ability to read what others are saying, and submit their own statements. Parks managers incorporate them into our decision-making process. Learn more about the proposal at kingcounty.gov/islandcenterforest.

• King County will also solicit public input on this proposal through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The SEPA document will be available Friday, Sept. 8 on the King County Parks’ website, kingcounty.gov/parks/publicnotices.

Send or email comments to:
David Kimmett, Natural Resource Lands
King County Parks and Recreation Division
201 S. Jackson Street, Room 700
Seattle, WA 98104
206-477-7372
KCParks.SEPA@kingcounty.gov

King County took over management of the former Washington State Department of Natural Resources lands, now known as Island Center Forest, in 2005. At that time, the Vashon community requested that all historic uses of the site be allowed to continue, including hiking, biking and horseback riding, forest management and deer hunting.

Increased year-round use of the land by non-hunters raised concerns about unsafe conditions in the woods during the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s annual four-month-long deer hunt from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, which included separate seasons for archery, muzzleloaders and modern firearms.

To accommodate hunting and non-hunting activities in Island Center Forest, King County proposed a limited hunting season to coincide with the state’s modern firearm hunting season when all firearms can be used, except rifles. This reduced the state’s established four-month-long hunting season at Island Center Forest to a season that encompasses the last three weekends of October.

King County Parks manages Island Center Forest in collaboration with community partners who make up the Friends of Island Center Forest, a diverse group that includes the Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon-Maury Island Horse Association, Vashon Sportsmen’s Club, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, Vashon-Maury Island Audubon, outdoor enthusiasts and other community members.

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About King County Parks
King County Parks - Your Big Backyard - offers more than 200 parks and 28,000 acres of open space, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails, 215 miles of backcountry 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.