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Target shooting ban still possible for Miller Quarry posted on 11/01/2017

A ban on target shooting at Miller Quarry is still a possibility, according to John Huston, Cascades Field Manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Northwest Oregon District.

The effort has been complicated, however, by Secretarial Order 3356, signed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in September, which in part seeks to increase access to public lands for hunting, shooting and fishing on land run by the BLM and other agencies.

A community effort, spearheaded by Mt. Hood RV Village resident Warren Bates, began last fall when issues with target shooters at the quarry, including noise, safety risks and pollution, were raised at a series of meetings. At a Dec. 21, 2016 meeting, BLM Cascades Outdoor Recreation Planner Zach Jarrett noted the agency finished a new Resource Management Plan in August 2016, which included designating the quarry as a recreation management area and opening the door to closing it for target shooting within the year.

Huston noted the Oregon State Office of the BLM is now preparing a briefing paper to be presented to congress, but they want to be careful and do it right.

“It’s still moving forward, it’s just at a higher level,” Huston said, adding there is no timeline for the paper.

Bates noted that he is “hopeful,” but is also not getting ahead of himself.

“I’m not going to hold my breath,” he said. “When you get into this government bureaucracy stuff, it’s a whole new world, in my opinion.”

Bates added that in the meantime, gun noise has “slowed down immensely” at the quarry.

“Why, I don’t know,” he said. “But it’s not near as bad as it was at the height of it. I think we quelled some of it just by letting people know that we will close it.”

Other project updates

The BLM has also completed an economic analysis and a draft Recreation Area Management Plan for potential development of the Wildwood Recreation Site, according to Jennifer Velez, Public Affairs Officer for BLM’s Eugene and Salem Districts. Velez added that the hope is to release the plan by “late winter,” followed by an official comment period.

The plan will include at least two development alternatives for the site, including a “no action” option. Development options include possibly adding campsites, yurts, cabins and RV sites. That could help the site increase the number of visitors utilizing the area each year, currently at approximately 50,000, a fraction of the 375,000 it was built to accommodate.

Meanwhile, the trailhead at the Sandy Ridge Trail System has reopened, although approximately half of the parking lot remains inaccessible due to contractors continued work at the site. Work is expected to continue through the winter.

“We’re really looking forward to when the main recreation season kicks off next spring for mountain bikers to really enjoy the improvements they’ll find out there,” Velez said.

By Garth Guibord/MT




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