State decision aids proposal for gun range near Sultan

SULTAN — A plan to establish a public gun range along Sultan Basin Road cleared an initial hurdle Tuesday, when the state agreed to give Snohomish County more than 150 acres of forestland.

The state Board of Natural Resources made the unanimous 6-0 decision in Olympia.

County parks staff expects to start drawing up plans for the range early next year. That will happen once the land’s title is transferred, a process that should take a couple of months.

The board’s decision heartened shooting enthusiasts who have championed a public range for decades, as well as public officials who see the range as a potential economic boon for the U.S. 2 corridor. Though the proposed range would sit several miles outside Sultan’s borders, city officials believe it would bring new visitors and business to the area.

“The work has just begun,” said Steve Slawson, a Sultan city councilman. “We really want to work with our neighbors in that area to make it a quality park.”

Neighbors fear the county range would increase noise in the area and harm the environment with lead contamination. During Tuesday’s hearing, about eight people argued each side of the issue in public comments before the natural resources board.

Among the opponents was Jodi Halfhill, a member of the Lake Bronson Club, a nudist group based on scenic land about a mile from proposed range. Members of the club believe people need a place to shoot, but that Sultan Basin Road is the wrong place.

“We’re disappointed,” Halfhill said. “Now, the fight turns to the county. We’re kind of gearing up for that. We’ll make them jump through every hoop they have to jump through.”

The need for a public range has become more pressing, many say. Other popular shooting spots have closed, including a gravel pit on 116th Street SE, near Sultan Basin Road.

The land the state is giving to the county is a few miles farther up Sultan Basin Road from the gravel pit.

The parcel is among more than half million acres of public trust lands statewide that the state Department of Natural Resources has managed for counties since the 1920s. The potential gun range is buffered by state forestland, with the closest neighbors a mile or so away. Money from the land’s timber goes to support local governments.

The county expects to pay nothing for the land itself, only for the administrative costs of the transfer. To build the range, the county must comply with state environmental rules.

County Executive Aaron Reardon pledged that public and private investment would one day make the county range “one of the premier outdoor shooting facilities in the nation.”

“I have always supported this project and am pleased to see it finally moving forward,” Reardon said in a prepared statement. “This project has been discussed for more than 20 years and will provide a safe location for shooting enthusiasts and hobbyists to meet.”

The county has been working to improve and promote outdoor recreation along the U.S. 2 corridor in cooperation with the state DNR, state Parks Commission and the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce, as well as the cities of Sultan and Gold Bar.

For now, the county budget sets aside no money for the range. A six-year parks budget calls for $650,000 to develop the project.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Julie Copeland, center, with her daughters Lillian, 11, Naomi, 7 and son, Michah, 9 with their dog Pippin, 3, outside of Mary's Place on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 in Burien, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A family of 6 pitched tent in Forest Park — then help arrived

Everett’s innovative team of a police officer and a social worker aided them in their time of greatest need.

A major fire broke out on the Everett waterfront Monday morning in an apparently difficult location. (Sue Misao / The Herald) 20181008
Everett boater gets house arrest for fraud in marina fire

He lost his boat in a 2018 fire. But valuables he claimed were destroyed weren’t burned. He sold them on OfferUp.

Port of Everett, state offer new small business grants

Port tenants and companies affected by COVID-19 health restrictions are encouraged to apply.

New Snohomish County online guide aims to boost businesses

County officials have launched an online business directory to help shoppers find local food and wares.

Man arrested after allegedly shooting at, fleeing deputies

A homeowner reportedly found the Lake Stevens man, 40, hiding in a garage and called 911.

Local economic relief programs to get $4.5 million infusion

The new cash will go to small businesses via city grant programs and Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

Auditor: Lack of oversight led to errors in Sultan finances

For a second time, the state auditor’s office urged the city to improve its financial review process.

Voters Brie Roberts, 28, and Michael Woods, 30, vote for the first time at the Robert J. Drewel Administration Building on the Snohomsish County Campus on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Voters young and old put this election in the record book

Generations X and Z, and Millennials, showed up and increased their share of votes compared to 2016.

$250,000 bail for Everett man accused of firing at deputy

A five-mile chase ended with the suspect allegedly breaking into a Mill Creek home Saturday night.

Most Read