Camp Dodge officials say signs -are- now posted warning boaters not to enter the military installation northwest of Des Moines via Beaver Creek. Two men in a canoe paddled alongside the National Guard gun range over the weekend and nearly got hit by machine gun fire, saying they were lucky they didn’t get killed. Ed Fallon of Des Moines, a state Representative, says he and a friend were on Beaver Creek, and didn’t know they were entering National Guard property. The canoers saw a Guard patrol, and then shortly afterwards bullets were “whizzing by” over their heads. Fallon says he and his companion “heard the lead landing on the bank across the canoe from us, and that’s not good.” Fallon says officials from the Guard told him there have been signs in the area in the past, warning boaters to stay off the property. Guard spokesman Colonel Robert King says the signs may’ve been washed away or taken by vandals, but three new sets of signs are now posted. The first two sets tell travelers they’re entering onto a military reservation, and they should keep out. Further down, the signs read “entering area for marksmanship ranges — do not enter.” Fallon says when the bullets started whizzing nearby, they pulled the boat over, took cover on a bank and called 9-1-1. Fallon says the Guard responded quickly, and he hopes the Guard checks the re-posted signs regularly. Fallon says anyone who doesn’t know where the stream heads could end up in the same position he did. He describes it as a “life-threatening” situation. Fallon says the soldiers didn’t know they were on the river. Fallon says any “responsible canoer” would know not to enter a military base, and that’s why the signs are so important. Once Fallon called 9-1-1, Polk County dispatchers contacted Camp Dodge, firing ceased, and soldiers found the men and escorted them out. Colonel King says it was fortunate no one was hurt. King says they’ve had “very, very few incidents” at the river-side firing range. But he says about six years ago, a bunch of kids came floating down the river on inner-tubes and the marksmanship range “was hot” according to King, and the bullets were flying over the kids’ heads. King says the six new signs were posted Monday.
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