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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Ban on Firearm use on Some Forest Service Property.

I read an article today in TNT. Thanks to Jeffery Mayor for the article. The article is about the Forest Service putting an outright ban on gun use in a small area of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Here is an excerpt from the ban:

“We have a serious public safety concern,” said Snoqualmie District Ranger Jim Franzel. “If we don’t do something immediately, someone will get hurt. We are closing the smallest land area possible to prevent an injury and provide for public safety.” The target shooting closure area encompasses concentrated recreation uses with multiple roads, campgrounds, trailheads and picnic areas. Franzel said that the local geography doesn’t provide for natural target shooting backstops, so target shooters often use trees and vegetation as backstops, not realizing there may be a trailhead or people recreating within range.” Source

While some gun rights advocates may be raising their blood pressure and perhaps even stomping their feet in anger over this ban, it serves as an extremely over-due acknowledgement by the Forest Service that the current gun use regulations in the National Forests are out of touch with reality and that the Forest Service needs to acknowledge the kinds of visitors to an area. Typically the Forest Service has too few people to enforce firearms use laws, and that is made worse by what appears to be a vast culture of indifference to the problems associated with nearly unrestricted firearm use where there are numbers of visitors.

I spend a lot of time on and near Forest Service roads in Greenwater. I hike and ride my bicycle throughout the area on roadways including UFSF 70, UFSF 73, UFSF 74, as well as other roadways. On all of these roads during nearly any warm weather day, there are up to hundreds of people within a few miles of each other, each shooting up a storm, and typically doing so with absolutely no regard to the dangers they present to everyone around them. I've seen trees shot in half. I've seen people bring in everything from beer bottles, to old appliances, to propane bottles to abandoned motor vehicles, to a plastic statue of Santa Claus. Target shooters will typically put these near the river and shoot them, with nothing as a safe backdrop. Virtually every time they will leave the area with their bullet shells and bullet strewn trash left behind.

I have seen people “target shooting” with the head of trails leading into Mt Rainier National Park, immediately behind their “target.” No back drop, and not the slightest care or evidently comprehension that others use the area. I remember a time recently when I was resting by the West fork of the White River, after a long uphill bike ride. I was catching my breath and enjoying the view when someone walked to within about 20 yards of me and yelled to me: “Oh, it’s a good thing I decided to walk up here. Me and my buddies are going to shoot across the river by where you are - at some random trees. No one could see you.” I was as obvious as anyone at the side of the road in the open, and wearing a bright white bike helmet and an orange jacket. I left the area immediately.

During this time of year, on any given day, Greenwater endures more firearm use than the most crime ridden areas in any city on planet Earth, except perhaps Baghdad. It is appalling. It is highly dangerous, and it mostly takes place on and near Forest Service roadways.

As a reminder to all: “The Code of Federal Regulations prohibits discharging firearms within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned up to six months in jail. Signs are posted marking closed areas. Visitors can get maps at Snoqualmie Ranger District Office in North Bend that show where target shooting is prohibited. Map is also online here.

If you are in the Greenwater area and see someone shooting recklessly, report them. Call 911 and note the location you saw them, the time of day, and how many shots you saw or heard fired. Get a license number, if possible. Take a photo, if possible and note that when you call. Even though it is more than likely no one will come to investigate, your call will help to notify the county of firearm use in the area.

Perhaps, some day in the dim and distant future, the Forest Service may ban firearm use around Greenwater. Clearly they have the means to do so if they deem it necessary. Of course even if they do, they still won’t have enough people around to enforce it. But if enough calls come in, maybe some day they will.


TacomaCCT said...

Mount Rainier Controversy 1998

Proof self claimed "record" holder Chad Kellogg did not climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier for his first ever Rainier speed climb, 1998.

The climbing community in Tacoma has been astounded by these revelations.

A core requirement of a complete speedclimb is to go to the summit of the mountain.

--Below linked and quoted public statement by lead Rainier Climbing Ranger, Mike Gauthier.
--Mike is a close friend of Chad's, and received direct reports from Chad about his 1998 speed climb.
--Mike makes this public statement on, where he has been a member since 2001.

4th paragraph, 4th sentence onward.

Photocopy of Mike Gauthier's post.

"as a point of clarification, chad signed the summit register but did NOT go to the tippy top, Columbia Crest. on the other hand, dan towner of mt shasta CA (he once climbed Mt. Shasta 6 times in one day, he had placed 6 sets skies prior to ascent day) set a 5 hour and 8 minute paradise/summit/paradise record on rainier a few years before chad. ... and if you look at the difference in time (roughly one-minute), one wonders if dan’s pace wasn’t a bit faster?"

Despite this fact, Chad's record-claim got promoted and covered by the Seattle Times Also, Mike Gauthier himself reported his record-claim as a record, in the first edition of his book Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide

Bill Wright, resident of Colorado, and author of the book Speed Climbing, after he thoroughly investigated the controversies about Chad Kellogg, wrote on his speed climbing website that Chad Kellogg's 1998 Rainier record is "bogus."

Second listing at this page.

"This is bogus... I don't consider it the record."

"Chad signed the summit register, but didn't go to the tippy top. This is supposedly a 3-5 minutes further away and 50-100 feet higher. This is bogus and since he bested Towner by barely a minute, I don't consider it the record."

Stephanie Frieze said...

Safety in the wilderness is a tough nut. The late Washington artist Charles Mulvey had his wife murdered while on a camping trip in a national park many years ago. Someone entered their tent and slit her throat. Would having had a weapon preserved her life? Perhaps not. I don't like the notion of people discharging firearms in parks and forests, but I know that kidnappings and murders do happen there and that cell phone coverage is unavailable in many such areas. Summoning help is not always an option. When we go into the wild we need to go with the notion tht it is just that, beautiful, but wild.

JosephMcG said...

Thanks for the informative post... it makes a difference for me...

Anonymous said...

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