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Fish and Wildlife Commission discusses hunting seasons, land acquisitions, and Greater sage-grouse status

WDFW – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission heard updates on 2021-2023 hunting season setting, a periodic status review for Greater sage-grouse, land acquisition projects, and a hatchery policy during its March 25-27 virtual meeting.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff presented 2021-23 hunting season setting rulemaking proposals to the commission including public comments received for seasons, equipment, general regulations, and hunting boundary changes for most game species. The commission is scheduled to consider adoption of hunting regulations on April 9.

The commission also heard public comment and an update on six possible land acquisition projects, which include the Ebsen Water Access in Asotin County, Maloney Mountain in Columbia County, Chester Butte Expansion in Douglas County, Chehalis Wildlife Area Expansion in Grays Harbor County, Centralia Mine Project in Lewis and Thurston counties, and the Driscoll/Eyhott Island Addition in Okanogan County.

The Centralia Mine Project, further detailed in a WDFW blog, is a proposed land donation from TransAlta that would provide public access for recreation and benefit fish and wildlife conservation.

More details on these projects, including a summary of public comments, are available on the Commission webpage.

Commission members offered perspectives of support for department’s efforts to pursue the land acquisitions and continue conversations with local communities.

In addition, the commission heard public comment and a staff recommendation to uplist Greater sage-grouse from threatened to endangered status as part of a periodic status review.

A final commission decision on whether to designate the species as endangered is expected during the April 23-24 commission meeting.

If adopted, the rule would go into effect 30 days later.

On Saturday, commission members heard public comment and an update on proposed updates to the WDFW Anadromous Salmon and Steelhead Hatchery Policy.

The proposed new policy, C-3624, would replace the previous policy, C-3619.

The Commission expects to make a decision on the revised policy at their April 9 meeting.

If approved, the policy will require development of a technical procedures document that will then go through a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review and public comment process.

The public is invited to watch a recorded version of the meeting online once available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings.


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