Kettles hunting allowed

Deer hunting in the controversial Kettles Trails recreational area will be allowed on most of the property if the Island County Commissioners approve an ordinance unveiled at Monday’s meeting.

The Kettles Trails are located between Coupeville and Oak Harbor, between Highway 20 and Fort Ebey State Park.

The map presented by the Public Works Department depicts a single 150-yard, no-hunting buffer along the main Kettles Trail year around, but the rest of the area will be open for hunting from Sept. 15 to Nov. 30 each year.

A shaded area of the map shows a dense, trail-filled area where hunters will be allowed to shoot. “They can hunt on the rest of the property,” Bill Oakes, Public Works director, said after the meeting.

Existing regulations for the county’s system of non-motorized trails ban hunting within 150-feet of any trail, making it questionable if hunting is legal anywhere in the heavily trailed area.

The new regulations, if adopted, will make it easier to hunt the area, despite vociferous objects lodged at earlier hearings by joggers, hikers, bicyclists and other trail users.

Oakes said the Kettles Trails area encompasses 243 total acres. Hunting will be allowed on 195 of those acres if the ordinance is approved. There will no longer be setbacks from individual trails in the hunting area. “We’ll post kiosks at entry points with maps and explanations of what’s allowed when,” said Oakes.

The ordinance also will cover other county-owned lands where hunting is an issue. At Deer Lagoon on South Whidbey, waterfowl hunting will be allowed on the county-owned land within 50-yards of the property boundary, among other restrictions. Hunting foes in that area have threatened to take the county to court.

Elsewhere, South Whidbey’s 600-acre, county-owned Goss Lake Woods in the Lone Lake Road area would be open for hunting from Sept. 15 to Nov. 30, as would Camano Island’s 400-acre Camano Ridge.

A Whidbey Island public hearing will be held Monday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. in the Coupeville Recreation Center. A Camano Island hearing is set for Dec. 15 at 5 p.m. at Utsalady Elementary School.

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