QUILCENE — Jefferson County commissions heard about gun ranges and salmon recovery efforts during a meeting in Quilcene.
About 20 residents addressed commissioners during a round-table discussion at the Quilcene Community Center on Thursday. The three county commissioners and other county officials attended the community outreach meeting.
Some of the residents who attended said that commissioners don’t listen to them when they describe what they need as a rural community.
Most of those at the meeting opposed Joe D’Amico’s proposed 40-acre shooting range near Tarboo Lake.
“I want to put a gun range in your backyard, where you live, where your family lives, and then we can talk,” Aaron Dorr said.
So far, D’Amico has submitted no permits for the facility, said David Sullivan, district 2 commissioner.
Commission Chair Kate Dean said commissioners have been working on the gun range issue and addressing the salmon decline.
“We listen to both sides to find something that is affordable, fair and legal. … It’s always going to piss people off,” Dean said.
“We’re not different from the rest of you. We’re just trying to find that path through the forest.”
District 3 Commissioner Greg Brotherton said the commissioners try to respond to issues as soon as they can, but that government processes are slow.
“I’ve tried tantrums; that doesn’t work,” Brotherton said.
Herb Beck, former Port of Port Townsend commissioner whose name graces the local marina, said that restoration work on the Big Quilcene River is not bringing back the salmon population.
He said the work had caused a rise in the beaver population and beaver dams, which have limited the spawn of chum salmon.
“Fixing these streams are a waste of time and money,” Beck said, “I used to be able to hear the salmon from my bedroom.”
The commissioners said they are searching for solutions.
“It’s hard to hear criticisms of my work when I know my intentions are to help,” Dean said.
“We hear about these issues regularly, but when it’s your neighbors and people you know saying it straight to your face, then it hurts,” she continued.
“I wish [the residents] knew how much we care. I think there’s an epidemic of distrust in government.”
Some of the residents who attended the meeting said they did feel better after hearing the commissioners respond to their questions and criticisms.
“We’re very verbal about how we feel,” Quilcene resident Sherry Cooke said. “I think [the meeting] was very interesting and I am going away feeling like I was heard tonight.”
The next meeting of the community outreach series will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Brinnon Community Center at 306144 U.S. Highway 101.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].