Council OKs gun firing range above west Coulee Dam


Last updated 6/8/2022 at 10:44pm

The town council in Coulee Dam Wednesday night approved spending $3,020 to “move dirt” in an area just above the city hall, a residential neighborhood, and a motel so police can use it for a shooting range.

Officer Josh Watkins introduced himself to the council as the firearms instructor for Coulee Dam’s two-officer police department and explained the need for such a space. Watkins said the biggest benefit would be the ability to get free training.

Police have training requirements to keep up with, but scheduling time at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s shooting range on the hillside on the other side of town can be a problem, he said.

“It's a huge benefit to have our own specific range, because right now … we use the Bureau's range, and they're starting to get a little wishy washy,” Watkins said. “They haven't told us no that we cannot use their range. But I have the feeling that it's likely to get to that point.”

The Bureau maintains its shooting range for its Security Response Force Training Center, which trains personnel from Grand Coulee, Hoover and Glen Canyon dams.

Councilmember Dale Rey mentioned that he hears the gunfire from that training range often at his home.

Asked if other agencies would also want to use Coulee Dam’s range, Watkins said Grand Coulee police have “shown a lot of interest in trying to use it, because they're running into the same issue that I'm running into as far as scheduling.”

Watkins said he wanted to start the shooting rage simply and just needed some bulldozer work done, no buildings or power needed, with the sandy hillside one of the best backdrops for a shooting range he’s ever seen.

Council members had other ideas, however, and commented repeatedly that if the town was going to supply the range, it should be done right, even if that meant spending more money.

In the end, they voted to approve the simpler request for bulldozer work in “Dog Canyon,” a notch in the hills so named because it was once frequently used as many a stray dog’s final experience.


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