OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at their August meeting determined which funding and legislation requests the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will submit for consideration by the governor and state Legislature during the 2022 legislative session.
The commission authorized WDFW to request $8.9 million in maintenance funding needs, plus $9 million in emerging needs and $4 million in expenditure authority of dedicated accounts.
If funded, these requests will help the department to: increase freshwater, forage fish, crab, and game monitoring; improve hatchery safeguards; support salmon data analysis; advance bighorn sheep and mountain goat management; increase capacity to consult on projects related to solar infrastructure, salmon habitat, and fish passage; and respond to increased public use of WDFW-managed water access sites and wildlife areas.
The commission postponed, until their Aug. 27 meeting, a decision on whether to request funding to implement Columbia River salmon fisheries policy objectives, including efforts to buy back Columbia River commercial fishing licenses and continue development and study of alternative gear types.
The commission also approved a nearly $68 million request for capital funding for a variety of projects, including: $2.2 million to continue Deschutes Watershed Center Hatchery work in Tumwater, $14.5 million to acquire critical elk habitat near Mount Saint Helens, and $51 million to match federal funding for the Duckabush Estuary Restoration Project to restore 38 acres of critical salmon and wetland habitat on Hood Canal.
The commission further directed the department to seek four legislative changes to:
- Widen the potential array of members able to participate in the department’s American with Disabilities Act Advisory Committee,
- Pursue licensing changes to support the department’s ability to promote youth hunting and angling opportunities,
- Allow systems that integrate mobile and home printing options to improve customer convenience associated with licenses, tags, and reporting,
- Align with other state agencies to offer free days when the public visit WDFW-managed water access and wildlife area sites without a vehicle pass.
The commission also acted to continue the delisted status of Steller sea lions, reviewed steps taken by the agency to address current and potential drought conditions, and updated the commission’s procedures.
Members of the public can find more information and a meeting recording at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings.