Hunting rules will be changed

Not quite ready for adoption, Island County's proposed hunting ordinance will get another going over by county officials and the public.

On Monday, the Island County Commissioners agreed the proposed hunting ordinance needed more work. The commissioners and Island County Public Works staff will be fine tuning the new rules today during a work session in Coupeville.

Commissioners Mike Shelton and Mac McDowell wanted to push ahead with the resolution, but Commissioner Bill Byrd argued to send the ordinance back to the public works department.

"If we are going to allow hunting there needs to be more research," Byrd said.

"One of the areas we have not addressed is Goss Lake Woods," he said.

Bill Oakes, the county's public works director, said any significant changes to the ordinance will require a public hearing. That includes adding hunting at Goss Lake Woods to the hunting areas listed in the ordinance.

"It is expected there will be more public hearings on the topic," Oakes said.

The ordinances are aimed at restricting or limiting hunting on county-owned land.

The proposals address the Kettles Trails near Coupeville, Greenbank Farm, Deer Lagoon in the Useless Bay area of South Whidbey, and Camano Ridge on Camano Island.

On South Whidbey, the former Department of Natural Resources known as Goss Lakes Woods will also be included in the new county hunting ordinance.

"Certainly adding any new properties to the ordinance would constitute a substantial change and require a public hearing," Oakes said.

Goss Lake Woods was acquired by the county in 2003 from the state's school trust lands program after a big push from residents, state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and others who wanted to protect the property from logging and development.

It is managed by Island County Parks, and has been popular with a wide range of visitors.

"The trails in Goss Lake Woods are heavily used by walkers, hikers, mountain bikers and

horses and their riders. As far as I know there hasn't been any hunting since at the site," said Terri Arnold, superintendent of Island County Parks.

The two areas on South Whidbey are expected to have some restrictions to when and where hunting is allowed.

According to Commissioner Shelton, deer hunting is currently legal on the Department of Natural Resources property adjacent to the woods, and hunting was allowed when Goss Lake Woods was owned by DNR.

Even so, Shelton said he expects the county to expand its rules on hunting.

"Hunting in Goss Lakes Woods will become more restrictive. The new ordinance will shorten the time hunting is allowed," Shelton said.

In June 2003, DNR transfered the ownership of both the Goss Lake Woods and Carp Lake -- a Camano Island property -- to the county and the properties became part of the county parks system.

On Deer Lagoon, the proposed buffer zone of 150 feet will likely be increased. Shelton said duck hunting will be restricted to the center of the lagoon.

Hunters will need a boat to get there. The proposed ordinance calls for a 150-foot buffer zone from private property; legal access is gained from Double Bluff Road on the west, or on the eastern portion by boat or at low tide to the county-owned dike.

Commissioner Byrd said the 150-foot buffer zone proposed at Deer Lagoon is not enough to protect citizens from bird shot.

On the Kettles Trail, hunting will be restricted to within 150 yards of the main trail, with no buffers on the other trails.

A public hearing date on the new draft ordinance will be set by the commissioners Monday during their weekly meeting.

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