A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

SULTAN — A planned 640-acre shooting range near Sultan isn’t coming anytime soon, county officials said this week.

Neighbors’ concerns, lack of interested developers and funding are forcing the county to re-evaluate the $47 million project.

For nearly 40 years, the county listed a shooting range as a long-term priority. In 2019, the county pitched a location a few miles outside of town, roughly north of Kellogg Lake.

Park officials had said it could be a solution to illegal shooting in the Skykomish River valley.

At public meetings this winter, neighbors doubted a rifle, pistol and archery range would discourage illegal shooting and worried about increased noise and traffic.

In 2021, the county tested for noise through a computer model.

The study concluded typical gunfire would not exceed daytime limits for noise under county code. During large competitions, the noise would exceed daytime limits “periodically but not often.”

The study cited the importance of dampening noise levels through using of berms or barriers.

For greater accuracy, officials decided to do a live test.

Originally scheduled for Tuesday, county organizers postponed the noise test. The predicted heavy rain would jeopardize safety, county spokesperson Rose Intveld said in an email this week.

The local fire department use drones to make sure no one is present during the test. They can’t be flown in heavy rain.

Rain can also lead to misleading results.

“There’s some people who say it muffles it, and there’s some that say it amplifies it,” said Debbie Copple, the director of the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce and a shooting sports enthusiast.

The test is now set for June, though the exact date is to be determined, Intveld said.

It will measure a worst-case scenario from the entrance to the Lake Bronson neighborhood and the intersection of Kellogg Lake and Sultan Basin roads, officials said.

Copple plans to attend. She understands neighbors’ concerns and wants to hear for herself just how bad — or not — a range would be.

“I want to hear what it sounds like in the neighborhood,” she said. “We just need to know what’s real. And not just what people are scared of.”

The state Department of Natural Resources owns the proposed range’s land.

The previous plan was to have the department transfer it to Snohomish County, after Sierra Pacific Industries finished logging the land for timber.

But the county is “re-evaluating,” Intveld said.

Having no interested business party is playing a role, Intveld said.

Tom Teigen the county’s director of Snohomish County Conservation and Natural Resources, assured no public money had been dedicated to develop the site, during a public meeting in February.

He was hopeful a private entity would pay for the shooting range.

But a request for proposal released in November 2021 expired two months later with no bidders. After the bidding process, an interested business approached the county. But that partnership did not move forward.

Snohomish County Parks doesn’t plan to issue another request anytime soon.

The parks department will make recommendations for the project to the county executive and County Council during the budget process through the fall.

The County Council can choose not to follow the division’s recommendation. Copple said transferring land takes time and finding a business partner isn’t as urgent.

“Even if they found somebody right now, she said, “by the time it was re-conveyed, most people would probably be retired.”

Aina de Lapparent Alvarez: 425-339-3449; aina.alvarez@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @Ainadla.

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