Recreational Target Shooting Changes Are Needed

Hunting Is Not The Problem

White River/Greenwater SR 410 Background:

 

Circa 1960, Forest Service (FS) 70 road off highway SR 410, a couple safe shooting locations in use mainly by hunters to sight in their firearms.  These 2 locations 7+ miles from 2 Greenwater pre-1950 historic communities.  Late 1960's to early 1970's a couple more communities established.  These 2, Crystal Village and Crystal River Ranch remain unchanged within their original development footprint.  Conservation zoning restricts future expansion.

 

Perimeter property borders of commercial/residential Greenwater Village, Crystal River Ranch and Crystal Villages encompass Pierce County designated Sheriff restricted no shooting zones prohibiting hunting activity 365 days a year.  Is My Pierce County Property Located in a Sheriff Restriction Area? Interactive Mapping: click the "Public Safety" Folder and check "Sheriff Restrictions"

About 2003 serious target shooting incidents reported within 1 to 2 miles of Greenwater communities.  Near miss bullet accounts by property owners, hikers, cyclists, fishermen, a variety of out of area visitors and contractors.  The number of reported shooting incidents increase each year threatening public safety risk, causing bullet damage to structures and 8+ property owners 2015-2017 communicate finding bullets on their property.

Firearm Use Training:

Too many target shooters coming to the National Forest do not have adequate basic firearm knowledge or training.  Every day lethal long range firearms are discharged in unsafe locations on side roads/spurs along the SR 410 highway corridor.  Seasonal hunting firearms incidents are minimal compared to the high volume of unsafe/illegal target shooting incidents.  Unprecedented population growth in municipalities within short driving distance is one reason for the steady increase of target shooting activity in the SR 410 corridor.  There is no requirement for a recreational target shooter to complete firearm safety use training.  Every target shooter needs to complete the same instruction required of every hunter in WA State.  Click below "Online WA Firearm Safety Course"

Target Shooting Sourced Wildfires - In Close Proximity to SR 410 Communities:

2018 July 27th Greenwater and Crystal Mountain firefighters responded to a reported fire near Dalles Lake, which is several miles up the FS 72 road. They found a 100’ x 100’ fire about 150’ below the spur road above Dalles Lake. As recounted by Paul Sowers, Fire Chief, "it was burning in heavy slash on a steep and unstable slope. A couple of trees torched while getting set up. It was getting dark, and the slope had a large number of very large and unstable objects on it, so our ability to maneuver around the fire was limited. We were able to get a couple of thousand gallons of water on it and dampen its enthusiasm. USFS Engine 321 showed up just after dark and took over. This fire was almost certainly caused by human activity, probable by people shooting downhill from the landing. A fire was started in the same location several years ago by this activity."

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2017 Monday September 4th during the active Norse Peak Fire, lightening sourced, 55,909 consumed acres. Due to the close proximity of the Norse Peak Fire, the entire SR 410 corridor was on level 1 evacuation alert.  Another fire was located at Sawmill Creek approximately 7:30 pm about 12 miles NE of Greenwater Communities.  Matt Caldwell, DNR Assistant Fire Unit Manager at the scene believed the Sawmill Creek fire definitely caused by target shooting.  Blake Konold another at the scene responder observed bullet riddled target debris at the fire ignition location.  Both certain this fire was started by incendiary target shooting activity.  Sawmill Creek fire consumed 1,061 acres.  After 2 weeks of firefighting, fire was transitioned to monitoring status September 20, 2017. https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5594/

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2016 August 19th Reported by Christopher and April Hurst. During an active burn ban in very dry conditions:

"Tonight at about 9 PM we heard explosions over at the 7013 road and thought that it was probably people shooting explosive targets, which generally happens all the time, but because of the extreme fire danger, decided to go over to take a look.  This is about a mile from our homes.  When we arrived three vehicles were leaving and we saw a fire was burning.

 

The Greenwater Fire Department arrived and put the forest fire out.  It restarted a couple of times from flareups and they kept putting them out. Had the fire hit the tree line or the base of the hill, everything would have been lost.  Greenwater and the hundreds of homes up here, and possibly millions of acres of forests would have probably burned before this was under control.

But here is the almost unimaginable part:  While the firefighters were trying to put the fire out, shooters, in the dark, were still firing away with guns.  Even at 9:55 PM they were still shooting.  There are many witnesses to this; firefighters, DNR and a Washington State Patrol trooper, aside from me and my wife."

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2014 Greenwater Fire District Commissioner communicates, "In the last two years, in my estimation, I would say three to four of these fires appear to have been started by target shooting. This surmise is taken by the fact of shells and casings littering the area, as well as the location of the fire in relation to the area."

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2007 about 1.5 miles up FS 75 road from Crystal River Ranch community 2 young men shooting at pressurized can targets start a fire in a timber harvest debris pile.  Thankfully within 2 days for our community this fire was extinguished by Greenwater Fire District.

Continued below is a small sampling of serious SR 410 corridor target shooting incidents.

We know many are unreported.

 

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2019 Oct 10th Reported to Puget Sound Energy.  Location NE of Fire Station #2 on Crystal River Ranch Road.  Utility pole identifiers -  565193 172260

Pole has insulators damaged by target shooters.  Wendy Scholl after 5 PM heard close proximity firing and found fresh casings inside the first Muckleshoot gate on the right West of the bridge.

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2012 June 16th Crystal River Ranch community recreational room window shot out from .223 caliber bullet fired off Forest Service road FS 7013 high ridge point. Along the FS 72 ridge and high point FS 7013 locations eight posted unsafe shooting signs shot, burned or removed.

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"Stray bullet survivor may never know who shot him..

Seattle Times by Chris Sullivan June 24, 2013

The bullet that struck his hand came from several hundred feet above and behind Paul McNabb in the hills of Crystal Village where a group of people were target shooting.


It’s been a week since 23-year-old Alyssa Smith was hit and killed by a stray bullet fired by target shooters near Ferndale. Whatcom County prosecutors have yet to decide if they can charge anyone with her death.


But her story encouraged a Newcastle family to come forward about their “near miss” with another stray bullet fired this year.


It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Day. Paul McNabb was walking back from his brother’s house at Crystal Village, a vacation community near Crystal Mountain. He had forgotten dog food and had picked up a bag from his brother. That’s when he heard the high-pitched and distinctive sound of a bullet flying through the air.

“Something whizzed past my head and struck my thumb and right into the dog food and kind of blew the bag apart,” McNabb said.


The bullet came from several hundred feet above him and behind him in the hills where a group of people were target shooting, but McNabb had no idea at the time that the shot had come from them. “Had I known it was them, I probably would have gone up to them and maybe talked to them about it,” he said. “At the time, I really didn’t think it would have come from so far away.”


McNabb’s wife found a .38 caliber bullet on the ground the next day, and he immediately starting replaying every step he had made on that walk from his brother’s house, wondering “what if.”


“It was icy on the road so I decided to walk on the shoulder where I had a little more grip under my feet,” he said. “You think of a million things after something like that happens of what-if’s or what could have been.”


It turns out that stray bullets are somewhat common near Crystal Village. People have found bullet holes in their hot tubs. Families report bullets hitting their houses. In one case, a community center was hit by a bullet that came from a mile away. “People shoot up there quite a bit,” McNabb said. “It takes a different
tone now after the incident that happened to me.”


Since McNabb’s near miss, the forest service road where the shot came from has been closed.


McNabb said he has no problem with people target shooting or exercising their 2nd Amendment rights, but he wishes there could be more training and more education on doing it safely. “You have to go through the learning curve to get a driver’s license,” he said. “You would think, maybe, you would be able to get some sort of training on firing and handling and target-shooting with a firearm.”

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office is still looking into his case, but it’s likely the
person who fired the shot will never be found."

Pierce County Sheriff case #130020481

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2014 Community Property Owners Pinned in Their Home:
 

"I moved to the White River Valley 12 years ago. Incidents of shooting have increased in the Valley over those 12 years. In the past few years, these incidents have become frightening. Most recently, almost daily shootings surrounding our home create a complete absence of personal safety. Every weekend, we wince with fear at the possibility of another life threatening shooting near our home.

On August 24, 2014 those fears became a reality. The peace was not only broken by regular weekend shooting noise, but this time one or all of us could have been seriously injured or killed. Not only once, but four times the ear splitting sound of semi-automatic gunfire immediately proceeded bullets whizzing by and hitting the surrounding trees on our property. Visiting with our neighbors on our front porch, the four of us ran for cover inside of our home fearing for our lives. As the neighbors retreated to their own home, our fears for our safety caused us to feel threatened and continue to run for cover with each subsequent episode throughout the afternoon.

 

My husband reported the first 3 shootings and subsequent bullets hitting our property to 911. They asked if it sounded like anyone was injured. Of course he replied we were lucky it was not us. The third time he reported the shootings, reminding the operator it was his third call, she asked my husband what action he was requesting. Of course, he explained he would like someone to find the shooters. But he finally agreed to at least, receive a call from law enforcement. That call never came.

We also reported the shootings to our community manager who forwarded our concern to Wendy Scholl. Wendy and others continue working on preventative measures. However, it is obvious that preventative measures are not keeping my husband and me safe. This kind of dangerous ignorant shooting causes risk to anyone in the White River Valley and must be STOPPED NOW!"

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Local resident, Wendy Scholl, 2015 compiled a series of reported incidents and comments from individuals who had experiences with unsafe and illegal target shooting.  This is a small sampling of the numerous dangerous target shooting incidents in the SR 410 corridor.  There are safe target shooters who obey the laws and respect other forest users.  Many of these folks have joined our Association to help stop this type of bad behavior.  Responsible shooters do not support the types of incidents in this compilation.