Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee: Report and Recommendations

Category: Wildlife Area Management

Published: December 2017

Pages: 40

Introduction

The WTS Advisory Committee represents broad recreational and neighbor interests in the Wenas Wildlife Area, and is comprised of 18 members representing: neighbors and affected landowners, hunters, target shooters, horseback riders, mountain bike riders, hikers, wildlife watchers, bird dog trainers, motorized users, and others. WDFW sent a broad invitation asking stakeholders to apply to participate in the WTS Committee. WDFW selected Advisory Committee members based on the following:

  • Active user of the Wenas Wildlife Area
  • Acceptance of the basic problem statement and Committee purpose and objectives
  • Interest in developing a sustainable solution to recreational target shooting management at Wenas Wildlife Area
  • Past experience with collaborative processes
  • Ability to represent a broader user group constituency
  • Willingness to participate in regular Committee meetings

A list of Committee members is in Attachment 1.

The Committee met eight times between May and December 2017. Government agencies including WDFW and DNR participated in the Committee as Ex Officio participants. Local elected officials also (at their discretion) participated as Ex Officio participants. Ex Officio participants served as resources to the Committee. In addition to full Committee meetings, small subgroups of Committee members met numerous times to identify sites to recommend for improvement for concentrated shooting in the north and south areas of the Wenas Wildlife Area.

Public input was important to the Committee process. All Committee meetings were open to the public and opportunities for public comment were provided at each meeting. WDFW also hosted, and numerous Committee members attended, four listening sessions to facilitate the Committee receiving public input. Finally, the Committee maintained an on-line public comment form. Summaries of Committee meetings, listening sessions, and online comments are available at the Committee website and in Appendix A.

The Committee considered a variety of information in its discussions including information on WDFW management history and priorities for the Wenas Wildlife Area; existing rules and regulations applicable to shooting on public lands; complaints, concerns, and enforcement at the Wenas Wildlife Area; and fires, littering and trash. Information considered by the Committee is summarized in Section II.

The Committee operated by consensus. For purposes of the Committee's deliberations "consensus" meant that all members of the Committee can at least "live with" a recommendation, even if it was not their first (or even their preferred) choice. Consensus was evaluated through a variety of techniques, including one-on-one conversations with Committee members, straw polling during and between meetings, and documented review of Committee materials.

Ultimately the Committee reached consensus on most topics including recommendations addressing increased education and outreach; the role of enforcement and need for increased enforcement resources; focused enhancements to increase safety at four sites that historically and currently have been locations of concentrated shooting activities; and a phased approach to implementation with continued engagement with the Advisory Committee going forward. Recommendations 1-15 in Section III describe the Committee consensus.

The Committee discussed but did not reach consensus on prohibiting certain types of firearms at enhanced locations, providing sanitation stations at enhanced locations, and how to address dispersed shooting at Buffalo Road (with different Committee members defining that area more or less broadly). The different Committee members perspectives on these topics are described in text under recommendations 8, 13, and 14. The Committee also did not reach consensus on a set of principles to guide decision making on dispersed shooting. The Committee's deliberations on principles and Committee member perspectives are described in Attachment 2.

Even for the few topics on which the Committee did not reach consensus, there were many areas of common ground. It is possible that the Committee could reach agreement on these topics with additional time for deliberations. Most Committee members are interested in continuing to work with WDFW to see their consensus recommendations implemented fully and quickly, and to continue deliberations on remaining topics.