Commission decides on local land acquisitions; hears briefings during April meeting

At their recent meeting, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved two local land transactions and a number of other items.

The meeting was held late last week in Anacortes, featuring a number of topics including the annual wolf report and elk management.

On Friday, the Commission approved five proposed land transactions in Snohomish, Grays Harbor, and Benton counties, and received briefings on two proposed expedited land acquisitions in Okanogan and Grant counties.

The two local land swaps included;

Donation of .45 (+/-) acres in Grays Harbor County
South Montesano Water Access, Region 6

This acquisition, by donation, is for .45 (+/-) acres lying between the Chehalis River and Hwy 107 in Grays Harbor County. The property has been operated as a popular water access area in Region 6 for many years. In the winter of 2021-22 changes to the course of the Chehalis River caused substantial erosion of the WDFW water access area in this location. As a result, a large part of the available parking area was eroded, as was a portion of this parcel. The owner has approached WDFW with the proposed donation of the parcel which will provide the opportunity to develop additional replacement parking and take measures to stabilize the area.

Stabilization here will also have a positive impact on WSDOT as their Hwy. 107 bridge is adjacent to this site.

Approved through Lands 20/20 in 2022, the .45 (+/-) acre property will be donated by a private landowner.

Donation of 291 (+/-) acres in Grays Harbor County
Stafford/Three Creeks, South Grays Harbor Unit, Johns River WLA, Region 6

This donation is for approximately 291 (+/-) acres adjacent to the Grays Harbor Unit of the Johns River Wildlife Area, near the outlet of the Chehalis River in Grays Harbor County. This property will protect habitat for Federally and State listed sensitive species including Bull Trout, American Green Sturgeon, and Dusky Canada Goose, and provide expanded recreational access for waterfowl hunting, fishing as well as wildlife and shorebird viewing.

Approved through Lands 20/20 in 2018, this 291 (+/-) acre property will be donated by Forterra NW, one of our valued conservation partners.

Also on Friday, the Commission received a briefing on integrating a fish passage project streamlining law passed by the State Legislature in 2021, Substitute Senate Bill 5381, into the Hydraulic Code Rules.

Friday’s meeting concluded with a briefing on the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2022 Annual Report

At the end of 2022, WDFW and tribes counted a minimum of 216 wolves in 37 packs in Washington, an increase of 5% over 2021. Twenty-six of these packs were successful breeding pairs. The full 2022 wolf report is available at the link above and in Friday’s news release

The meeting was recorded so members of the public can watch at their convenience. The recording, as well as information about past and future Commission meetings and ways to participate, can be found at WDFW’s website.

Details on other discussions from WDFW:

The Commission assembled on Thursday with meetings of its Wildlife and Fish committees to discuss Game Management Plan updates, Co-Manager Hatchery Policy, updates on North of Falcon and Lake Roosevelt white sturgeon, and to elect committee chairs.

Commissioner Lorna Smith of Jefferson County was elected chair of the Wildlife Committee. Commissioner Jim Anderson of Pierce County was elected chair of the Fish Committee.

On Friday afternoon WDFW’s North Puget Sound regional director and regional wildlife program manager along with representatives of the Swinomish Tribe of Indians, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, Lummi Nation, and Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians provided an update on the North Cascades Elk Herd, which inhabits Skagit and Whatcom counties.

The Commission then decided to delegate authority to the WDFW Director for rule making regarding a white sturgeon fishery in Lake Roosevelt. The Commission also denied two fishing petitions regarding North Skookum Lake and Lake Whatcom.

On Saturday, the Commission heard additional public input followed by a briefing and discussion on the Co-Manager Hatchery Policy. The meeting concluded with Commission debrief and future meeting planning.