GARDINER – Fran Reynolds noticed an increase in hunting around her home overlooking Discovery Bay in 2018. Shooting today reached a level that she and her neighbors say has made the area unsafe for people, animals domestics and livestock.
“A hunter sent his dog into a neighbor’s yard to retrieve a goose he had shot,” said Reynolds, who has lived in Gardiner since 2014.
“A neighbor said she could hear a bullet whizzing past her ear when she was outside.”
Uncontrolled waterfowl hunting, the redevelopment of the Gardiner boat launch and illegal activities top the list of concerns for this community of some 350 people on the western edge of Jefferson County.
A Monday night meeting drew more than 40 people to the Gardiner Community Center where, for more than 90 minutes, they questioned and voiced their concerns to Jefferson County District 3 Commissioner Greg Brotherton; Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole; and Port Townsend Harbor Executive Director Eron Berg and Deputy Director Eric Toews.
No shooting area
Reynolds led efforts to establish a no-shoot zone in Gardner that would prohibit the discharge of firearms except in limited cases, such as to protect his home and by law enforcement.
According to the petition signed by 20 people and filed with Jefferson County in February, the proposed rectangular-shaped no-shoot zone would extend approximately 1,800 feet from the Dungeness Bay shoreline from east to west and span about 500 feet to the south.
It would include the boat launch and parking lot, wetlands and a lagoon.
Significantly for hunters, the lagoon is a popular destination for waterfowl, though Reynolds pointed out Gardiner residents aren’t calling for a hunting ban.
“Legal hunting with a permit and with the permission of the owner would still be permitted,” Reynolds said of those areas outside of the proposed no-shoot zone.
Jefferson County commissioners are scheduled to hold a special workshop at 5 p.m. Tuesday to determine how to proceed with the petition. A link to the meeting will be posted on the Jefferson County website at least 24 hours in advance.
In addition to the Gardiner petition, two no-shooting petitions filed by the owners’ association of the Cape George Colony Club in Port Townsend are also expected to be considered at this time.
The Townsend Gardner Harbor Boat Launch is the only public boat launch on Discovery Bay. Time, tides and heavy use have left their mark.
Deep and wide cracks fragment its degraded surface and large chunks of concrete are missing. Boaters have reported their trailers getting stuck or damaged while entering or exiting the water.
Commercial fishermen use the boat ramp to access the bay even though a posted sign clearly states that it is for recreational purposes only. The parking lot to the south has become a site of illegal activities such as fireworks, camping and drug use, residents said.
The tangle of jurisdictions overseeing the various elements in an area of less than 1.5 acres complicates solutions to ramp-related issues.
Port Townsend Harbor manages the ramp on the north (bay) side of Gardiner Beach Road. Jefferson County is responsible for Gardiner Beach Road which is used to access it. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife owns the ramp parking area and portable restrooms, but the county maintains them. And the beach on either side of the boat ramp is private property.
Even the ramp itself is divided: the port owns the upper part of the road at the waterline but manages the lower half under an easement which limits recreational use and requires it to be properly maintained.
What is not split is damage that extends the full length of the ramp and cannot be repaired. Replacement is the only option.
The harbor development project for the ramp includes the removal of the existing ramp and construction of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramp.
An access slip beside the new ramp and a seasonal mesh deck float will greatly improve accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as anyone using the facility.
Berg said surveying, designing and permitting will take place this year, with the best outcome being construction beginning next summer. However, the initial financing cost of $674,857 may need to be revised.
“Inflation has been brutal,” Berg said. “If we are looking to build this in 2023, that figure is unlikely to be accurate. It probably increased. »
Among the concerns of members of the Gardiner community about a new and improved boat launch was that it would prove too large and too popular, resulting in more people, traffic and problems. There were also fears that construction would be rushed.
“It definitely needs an upgrade,” said Judy Lynn, who lives five doors down from the ramp. “But we have concerns about traffic management and usage.”
The message: make it enjoyable, but not too enjoyable.
Berg and Toews listened.
“The biggest takeaway I took from the community meeting is that we need to have the new facility, but keep it as minimal as possible for it to be usable. And so that’s exactly the direction we’re giving the design team,” Berg said.
“We must meet the project objectives, be authorized and comply with the ADA [requirements]but remember it as much as possible.
Lynn said she appreciates that Berg and Toews take community input seriously.
“Minimum rebuilding to make it ADA compliant and safe. That’s really what we want,” she said.
In addition to illegal activity in the boat launch area, abandoned vehicles on the side of the road and reports of prowlers tell some Gardiner residents that their small, quiet rural community is experiencing problems in the big cities. .
Last year, Lindsey Soha, who lives in the same Gardiner Beach Road house where she grew up, was confronted by an intruder in her home.
“It was a guy, and he was in our bedroom and I was so confused,” she said. “I was like, what are you doing? And then he ran towards me and I slammed the door. I ran one way and he ran the other way.
Nole said based on statistics from the reports, there was no “crime wave” in Gardiner, but he encouraged residents to call the sheriff’s office when they see suspicious activity.
“There are a lot of vacation homes here that are empty most of the time,” Nole said. “People are breaking houses, robbing them and even living in them. If you call us about it, we have to answer.
Paula Hunt is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Angeles.