Oct. 15, 2010
Future of Island Center Forest deer hunt subject of Oct. 27 meeting on Vashon
King County gathering public input about future uses of popular forestland
King County has scheduled an Oct. 27 meeting in the Commons at Vashon High School to listen to public opinion about management of King County Parks’ Island Center Forest, where permission to discharge weapons was recently suspended after numerous deer hunting-related safety concerns were expressed.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with an open house, followed by brief presentations about the history of hunting at Island Center Forest, then an opportunity for the public to provide comments and ask questions.
Representatives from King County Parks and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife will be on hand to listen to the public and answer questions.
On Oct. 15, King County temporarily suspended its authorization allowing the discharge of weapons in Island Center Forest, where for many years hunting has taken place using a variety of weapons – except rifles – in late summer, fall and early winter.
Island Center Forest is owned and managed by King County Parks in collaboration with community partners who make up the Friends of Island Center Forest, a diverse group that includes the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon–Maury Island Audubon, equestrians and outdoor enthusiasts, among many other community members.
In 2005, when King County took over management of the former Washington State Department of Natural Resources lands, now known as Island Center Forest, 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.
However, this fall the Vashon community raised concerns about increased year-round use of the land by non-hunters that could create unsafe conditions in the woods during the roughly four-month-long hunt, which includes separate seasons for archery, muzzleloaders and modern firearms (shotguns and handguns).
Concerns were also raised that hunters were not complying with state hunting regulations and provisions of the King County public safety code.
The 369-acre working forest and nature preserve is managed to demonstrate sustainable forest management while protecting and restoring the health of the site's habitat.
In addition to the public meeting, King County Parks has established an online public comment forum, www.parksfeedback.com, where visitors can provide comments after taking a brief survey. Comments can also be mailed to King County Parks, 201 South Jackson St., Suite 700 Seattle, WA 98104.
More information about Island Center Forest, including a link to the Island Center Forest Site Management Guidelines document, is available at visit http://www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/trails/backcountry/islandcenterforest.aspx. Copies of the management guidelines document are also available at the Vashon Library.