December 22, 2010 11:26:00 AM
We thought all we had to worry about were Columbus policemen in Ghille suits. It turns out there are even more people with lethal weapons lurking in the woods along the Riverwalk.
A portion of the popular walking trail, on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, is open to bow hunters who have the proper permit. There are more walkers, including children, than hunters in the area. People walk their dogs along the paved pathway. Why anyone would want to hunt near the Riverwalk is beyond us.
The Corps of Engineers land occupied by the Riverwalk isn''t unique in its access to hunters. The Corps allows hunting on most of its land along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Lowndes and Clay counties. Two large parcels on the Columbus Island are also open to bow hunting. Parcels north of Highway 82 are open to gun and bow hunting, and hunting tracts extend the length of the river through Clay County on Corps land on both sides of the waterway.
We urge the Corps to recognize that its land containing the Riverwalk has changed since the walking path was constructed. This area now more of an urban public park than it is undeveloped woods where hunters should roam.
Some hunters are still staking out the Riverwalk woods, however. One local hiker (who is also the son of this newspaper''s publisher and whose letter on the subject appeared in Monday''s Dispatch) was walking on one of the trails near the Riverwalk when he found himself face to face with a bow hunter. The hunter explained that he had a permit, and that he was able to differentiate between a deer and a human, so hikers weren''t in danger.
We agree that a hunting accident would be highly unlikely. But the possibility exists. We would also point out that one of the charms of walking along the path and its accompanying trails, is enjoying the natural beauty and the wildlife, including deer. (Deer without arrows stuck in them.)
We urge the Corps to rescind hunting on its Riverwalk land, north of the Columbus Island and south of Highway 82.
But whether or not the Corps does so, we ask local hunters to use their own good common sense. Like it or not, the Riverwalk is here to stay, and so are the hikers and pedestrians that come with it. We kindly ask them to find another place to hunt.
frank commented at 12/22/2010 1:59:00 PM:
Google's content targeting is now placing ads for hunting supplies on this page which is a bit amusing.
The Corps should probably create a buffer zone between the hunters and the pedestrian area. Perhaps something reasonable can be worked out that will allow all to continue to enjoy the land.
understanding person commented at 12/29/2010 1:10:00 PM:
I understand people love and use the walking track all the time. The walking track is not a problem with the hunters. (I am one that hunts in this area) The problem occurs when people walk off of the track and walk on the burms. These burms are 50 to 80 yards from the walking track and are not part of the walking track. The ACOE do have a distance of 100 yards buffer zone for this area. I am the hunter that the young man ran into and I have no problem with him or any other person that wants to walk off the track. At the time the young man spoke to me I was not hunting but was walking to another location that is about 200 yards away from the walking track. Anyone can walk onto the ACOE land it is their right to do so but it is also my right to hunt the land as long as I am following the rules and regulations. I can respect the young mans idea of this not be safe conditions but maybe we can find a way to make everyone happy. For at least 3 years I have hunted this area and have spoken to several people that had walked off the walking track and onto the burms. No more has ever said they had a problem with the hunters. I usually try to explain that during certain times of the year bow hunting is allowed in certain areas. I once again hope that we can find a way to make everyone happy. Many hunters depend on this land to help feed our familys and dont have the money to lease land to hunt on.
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