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County looks at managing hunting in proposed park



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Russell
October 15, 2013 | 02:05 PM
ELKHORN — On Oct. 8, during the County Board’s regular meeting, board members were left with the impression that if they were going to accept a nearly $1 million grant from the DNR for the acquisition of parkland in the town of Lyons, they would have to allow hunting on the land 24/7.

The idea of nighttime, year-round hunting was enough to make some supervisors rethink purchasing the land to turn it into a public park.

For more than a year, the county has been negotiating buying property at the intersection of Sheridan Springs and Short roads.

The property, which has more than 9,000 feet of frontage on the White River and established trails, has a price tag of $1.91 million.

The county applied for, and received, a 50/50 matching grant with the DNR. To receive the grant, the county had to agree to allow hunting, trapping, hiking, cross-country skiing and fishing.

The board always planned on allowing hunting on the property, but proceeded under the impression that it could be limited to certain times of the year.

Since last week’s meeting, the county has received new information from the DNR about the hunting and trapping requirements. It now appears that the county may be able to be more restrictive on the regulations on the land if it becomes a park.

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County Board Chairwoman Nancy Russell expressed concerns about hunting occuring at night, when sportsmen typically shoot coyotes and other nocturnal critters. The board promised property owners adjacent to the land that the park would have hours of operation, which would prevent people from entering the park after dusk and before sunrise.

Other supervisors expressed concerns that hikers would be at risk if they were in the trajectory of a wayward shotgun shell.

On Monday afternoon, the county’s park commission discussed possible restrictions that can be placed on hunting in the park. Director of Central Services Kevin Brunner will inquire with the DNR to determine whether these restrictions are acceptable.

Russell asked the board to approve restrictions that would limit hunting strickly to bow hunting. She also asked that hunting not be allowed within 300 feet of an occupied dwelling, which is already state law. The committee also wants to place limitations on the weeks hunting can occur. The committee wants those limitations mirror other state parks.

“Big Foot Beach State Park is similar as far as usage goes,” Russell said.

The committee members also want hunters to apply for a permit before hunting or trapping in the park. Russell said she wouldn’t want the permits to have a fee.

Neighbors

Several property owners who live adjacent to the proposed park attended Monday’s Park Committee meeting and raised concerns about firearms being used on the property.

“We are truly concerned about the possibility of hunting, especially with rifles,” James Downey said.

Downey said a gun was recently shot at a berm, missed, and ending up striking a tree near his home.

“I would have a huge fear of stray shots fired at animals,” Downey said.

Duane Clark, who currently owns the property, had allowed hunting on his land in the past. However, he stopped when high-powered rifles became more common.

Roger Griffin, another neighbor, echoed Downey’s concerns about firearms and stray bullets.

During last week’s meeting, comments were made that hunters know the hunting rules and would respect them.

“I think self-regulation, means no regulation,” Griffin said.

He cited a recent incident when hunters were stopped on his property by the DNR. Those hunters believed that they were on public land near Buckby Road.

He also warned that the county board shouldn’t wait for a problem to make an amendment to the hunting ordinances.

“A problem might be a severe injury or a death,” Griffin said.

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