What’s Up with That? Racing a no-no on Lower River, all other city roads

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



This concerns the road on the west side of Vancouver Lake that dead-ends just north of the lake. Living in Felida, which is due east of that area, we hear the sounds of motorcycles racing, as well as gunshots, almost nightly during the spring through fall months. Is this a legally designated road for racing? Having just lost one of our own 14-year-old students through legal, supervised motorcycle racing, I question this use of that road. As for the gunshots, is this target practice or hunting? If so, I find it interesting that we hear the shots after dark on some nights. Does this not make it almost impossible to see the target?

— Sherry Rusunen, Felida

It may not be well-known that the area to the south, west and northwest of Vancouver Lake is a sort of crazy quilt of different uses and governing jurisdictions. There are city parks, county open spaces, industrial lands, private agricultural operations, state wildlife areas and more.

According to the state, the entire stretch totals 2,370 acres and it’s called the Shillapoo Wildlife Area. It’s a major wintering area for waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway, hosting Canada geese, mallards and other ducks, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, great blue herons, black-capped chickadees, western meadowlarks, yellow warblers and other species.

Hunting, target shooting and trap shooting are allowed here but each is highly regulated and restricted to certain areas. Rifles and pistols are banned as per Clark County rules. To learn what you need to know, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/shillapoo.

As for motorcycle racing, drag racing and other high-speed mischief happening along Lower River Road (west, along the Columbia) or what’s called the Erwin O. Rieger Memorial Highway (east, up the side of Vancouver Lake), let’s clear up one notion quickly: According to Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp, there’s no “legally designated road for racing” anywhere in Vancouver. Last we checked, public streets are for safe public travel — not private recklessness.

Vancouver police officers occasionally do patrol the north end of Lower River Road including Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park — “as call load permits,” she said. In addition, volunteers from the Neighbors On Watch program include the area when they make their rounds — aiming to deter car prowls and other bad stuff. Those volunteers call for police if they see illegal activity under way.

If you see or hear what you suspect is illegal activity going on — even if it’s across the water — call 911.