By Dylan J. Darling

The Bulletin

If you go

What: Public meeting about target shooting at The Peninsula on the Crooked River National Grassland, hosted by the U.S. Forest Service.

When: 6 p.m. Jan. 7

Where: Juniper Room at the Crooked River Ranch administration building, 5195 S.W. Clubhouse Road, Crooked River Ranch.

Laurie Maholland says she would like to go for hikes on public land near her Crooked River Ranch home, but target shooting there keeps her away.

“No one wants to go out there because you’re afraid you’ll be shot,” said Maholland, 66.

The land is called The Peninsula and the U.S. Forest Service oversees it as part of the Crooked River National Grassland. Maholland is among a group of Crooked River Ranch residents who have raised concerns to the Forest Service about target shooting there.

In response, the agency plans to hold a public meeting on the topic on Jan. 7 at the Crooked River Ranch administration building at 5195 S.W. Clubhouse Road in Crooked River Ranch. Slater Turner, district ranger for the grassland, said he is not yet proposing any changes to rules regarding target shooting at The Peninsula, but he is weighing his options.

“This is just a meeting to discuss and listen to people’s concerns and issues,” he said.

Turner sent a letter to Crooked River Ranch residents in early November, asking for comments about shooting at The Peninsula. The Forest Service received nearly 300 comments — including letters, emails and phone calls — Patrick Lair, spokesman for the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland, wrote in an email.

“Of the comments received, around two-thirds clearly oppose any kind of restrictions on shooting,” he wrote.

The Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area also sent out a letter to last month to Crooked River Ranch residents, clarifying the group’s stance on shooting at The Peninsula. In the letter, Cindy Murray, president of the group, said it would like to see the Forest Service enact an emergency closure on shooting there, except for hunting, until a balanced recreation management plan is created.

“We envision a Peninsula where people feel safe to take their dog for a walk or go for a bike ride with their grandkids and horseback ride,” Murray wrote.

Turner said The Peninsula is a popular shooting place for people who live in Crooked River Ranch, particularly at an old stock pond about a half mile from homes.

The Forest Service has no problem with responsible shooting on land it oversees and Dan Smith, patrol captain for the agency in Central Oregon, said he was unaware of any problems at The Peninsula.

Maholland said she and other residents near The Peninsula have heard of close calls, where people have heard bullets whiz past them, likely from a distant high-power rifle.

“It is just a matter of time until someone gets hurt,” Maholland said.

Shooting issues at The Peninsula are likely the result of people who aren’t following the rules, said Judy LaPora, Crooked River Ranch administrator. She said she expects a lively meeting on Jan. 7.

“I think what we are trying to do is find a good compromise that will keep everybody safe but still allow legal usage of the areas,” LaPora said.

—Reporter: 541-617-7812, .