The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comments on nine land conservation projects for potential funding that would benefit fish, wildlife and public access to the great outdoors.
In Grays Harbor, the department proposes expanding the John’s River Wildlife Area in Grays Harbor by purchasing 1,750 acres near Elk River and providing “Public access to waterfowl and elk hunting, wildlife viewing, and other recreational opportunities.”
In Pacific County, a proposal would add 103 acres, opening nearly a mile of shoreline on Willapa Bay to public recreation including shellfish harvesting.
The local projects are only two of the nine projects, which include buying a marina in Seiku and protecting habitat for spotted frogs in Thurston County.
The department will accept written comments through Friday, Feb. 2, 2018.
“This is an opportunity to comment on these proposals in the early stages of our strategic thinking,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager. “We want to know what the public thinks about these projects before we move forward.”
Following the public review, the WDFW lands staff must obtain approval from the department’s director before seeking funding for the proposed projects. The final decision to purchase a specific property rests with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the Governor to set policy for WDFW.
The department currently owns or manages approximately one million acres in 33 wildlife areas and 700 public water access sites. Those properties provide fish and wildlife habitat, as well as fishing, hunting, wildlife-viewing and other outdoor activities for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians every year.
“We have a responsibility to safeguard the future of fish and wildlife, while also providing for outdoor recreation in our state,” Wilkerson said. “With suitable habitat for many species and lands available for public recreation declining year after year, acquiring and managing land is one tool we have to provide these public benefits.”
Descriptions of all proposals are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/acquisitions/.