JEROME — County commissioners have found themselves between a rock and a hard place in their attempt to turn the Snake River Canyon Park into a safe place to recreate.
Jerome County wants to restrict recreational shooting to a safe area in the east end of the park, owned by the Bureau of Land Management and leased by Jerome County.
The shooting issue on the canyon rim came to a head last week when a doctor was hit in the chest by a stray bullet, the latest in several documented cases of close encounters with unseen and unknown shooters in the park or the adjacent endowment lands owned by the Idaho Department of Lands.
By code, recreational shooting is allowed on both BLM and IDL ground, Prosecutor Mike Seib told commissioners Cathy Roemer and Roger Morley on Monday. The commissioners could adopt a no-shooting ordinance to create a safe zone in the park, but when push comes to shove, state code trumps county ordinances, he said.
Seib told commissioners he didn’t know how he could successfully prosecute someone caught shooting in a no-shooting zone on BLM or IDL ground in that case.
“If it can’t be enforced, what would an ordinance accomplish?” Morley asked.
On the other hand, an Idaho statute allows counties to adopt ordinances to restrict the discharge of firearms within their boundaries, unless “the discharge will not endanger persons or property.”
The wording of the statute is problematic, Seib said. When pressed, he said he didn’t know whether that ordinance gives the county power to create a no-shooting zone on public land.
Roemer asked him to look into other counties’ shooting ordinances.
While the discussion brought more questions than answers, a Twin Falls man offered help from North Canyon Shooters Association.
“The shooting community is stepping up to the plate,” said Don Zuck, the group’s founder. “The North Canyon Shooters Association is coming to life in a big way, and all of us will do whatever we can to help the process.”