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.