Tarboo Ridge Coalition (TRC) hosted 37 leaders from communities throughout Jefferson County for breakfast at the Old Alcohol Plant in Port Hadlock on Saturday, March 23.  During the 4-hour session, representatives from 12 areas extending from Brinnon to Port Townsend and from the Hood Canal Bridge to Discovery Bay expressed concern about new County ordinances allowing large-scale military training at private, for-profit gun ranges and the impact this will have on the culture of Jefferson County.

In late 2018, the Board of County Commissioners opened up over 76% of unincorporated Jefferson County for such developments. TRC has appealed those ordinances to the Washington State Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB), with a decision expected on July 17.

In its appeal to the GMHB, TRC alleged that the County failed to follow the State Environmental Policy Act, bypassed required Planning Commission review, and adopted regulations that are inconsistent with the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan’s goals and policies. If the appeal is successful, the County will need to correct these errors or return to rules that allow only “Small Scale Tourist & Recreation” ranges at limited locations in the County.

Attendees strategized in small groups and together identified key next steps in resisting this fundamental change to Jefferson County’s land use policy.

“The support in the room and the quality of the discussion was fantastic,” said Scott Freeman, who led the forum. “Everyone there affirmed that the real issue is protecting the quality of life in Jefferson County. We support our military and honor the work that our local bases do to be good neighbors, but want to remain a rural county with a strong and growing economy based on farming, forestry, and fishing—not on privately owned, large-scale, commercial firearms training centers that disrupt our way of life. It’s shaping up to be a major issue in the 2020 local elections.”