Partnering to provide access and opportunity for all hunters

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Being in a wheelchair or using another assistive device doesn’t have to prevent you from hunting. The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council (INWC) is partnering with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to ensure that those who want to hunt can hunt.

The INWC is a group of sportsmen and women dedicated to conservation and habitat improvement in the Inland Northwest. They have been partnering with WDFW since the founding of their organization back in 1951. Members coordinate with WDFW on projects ranging from teaching kids to fish, to building wildlife viewing blinds, installing and fixing fences on WDFW lands, planting native species to restore traditional habitat, lake clean ups, roadkill recovery and butchering to donate meat to shelters and food banks, and education around decisions to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

With fall and hunting seasons here, INWC is working to get more people out into the woods and into the harvest of deer, elk or other game animals. About a decade ago, INWC members had a vision of providing better hunting opportunities for disabled hunters, specifically those in wheelchairs. Volunteers got together and built a handful of wheelchair accessible hunting platforms with ramps and installed them in the Colville National Forest and on Inland Empire Paper Company land in northeast Washington. Over the years, volunteers checked and maintained these platforms each year.

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In 2018, INWC members decided more platforms were needed and coordinated with WDFW staff to put another at the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area, in the Rustler’s Gulch Unit. Roles were reversed not too long later when WDFW staff decided another platform would be optimal and reached out to INWC to see if they would be willing to build and install one at the Sherman Creek Unit near Kettle Falls. They were.

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Then, in 2019, an INWC member learned that a Central Valley High School student in Spokane Valley was looking for an Eagle Scout project and reached out to see if he would be interested in building another hunting platform. He was, and members helped him and other scouts install it at Squirrel Meadows in the Colville National Forest not long after.

The two original ramps have since been refurbished. One will be deployed to a new location at Blanchard Hump soon and the other went to the upper side of the Rustler’s Gulch Unit of the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area. Both new locations are more accessible to people in wheelchairs.

And the INWC folks aren’t done yet. They are currently building two additional accessible hunter platforms, funded through a grant from WDFW, to be placed soon on Aladdin Mountain, west of Ione, Washington, within the Colville National Forest’s Disabled Hunter ADA Program area. When complete, that will make a total of ten ADA accessible hunting platforms installed by INWC members around northeast Washington, all inside gated areas reserved for disabled hunters so there is no competition with able-bodied hunters for deer or elk.

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WDFW is appreciative of its partners and the efforts of Inland Northwest Wildlife Council members to ensure that disabled hunters still have a chance to take something home to their freezer. If you area person with a disability, are a companion to a disabled hunter, or know one, more information on related hunting programs for those with disabilities and how to access one of these ADA accessible hunting platforms, is on the WDFW’s Diversity, Civil Rights, and ADA Accessibility page. The INWC also has an ADA program that works with private landowners and government organizations to provide land access for over 200 hunters with disabilities and an annual open house that showcases adaptive hunting and fishing equipment available to those with disabilities.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

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