Fish and Wildlife Commission to decide on Grays Harbor land transaction and more at August meeting

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to hear updates on a variety of topics during its Aug. 10-12 hybrid meeting in Olympia, including decisions on land transactions in Grays Harbor and elsewhere, a 2024 spring bear hunting petition, Klickitat Hatchery transfer, and 2024 legislative and budget requests.

The Commission kicks off work Thursday at 8 a.m. with meetings of its Big Tent and Wildlife committees to discuss the Commission’s draft Conservation Policy, an overview of Communications and Public Engagement, and updates to the Game Management Plan (GMP) timeline update and avian flu.

Beginning on Thursday at 1 p.m., the Fish Committee will receive a briefing on the co-manager Hatchery Policy, an update on the Olympic Peninsula Steelhead Federal Endangered Species Act listing status, the Willapa Bay salmon management draft policy, and an overview of a new Management Strategy Evaluation approach for salmonids in Washington. At 3 p.m., the Habitat Committee will provide an update on fish passage and screening rulemaking. 

The Commission meeting continues Friday with an opportunity for open public input, followed by a report from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind.

The Commission will take comments and decide on proposed land transactions in Grays Harbor and Clallam counties, and the proposed transfer of the Klickitat Hatchery to the Yakama Nation for upgrades and permanent operation. 

Locally, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) proposes to acquire an additional 40(+-) acres in the Chehalis Wildlife Area (WLA). 

The Unit was formed in partnership with Ducks Unlimited and acquired with a combination of Duck Stamp funding and land donations. It is currently 811(+-) acres located in the Lower Chehalis River watershed outside of Elma.

This 40(+-)-acre property was approved through Lands 20/20 in 2020 and will be acquired for the appraised value of $150,000 using funding from the WDFW’s Migratory Bird Stamp & Art Print Program (Duck Stamp). 

Once acquired, the property would become part of the Olympic-Willapa Hills Wildlife Area Management Plan. 

According to officials, a dilapidated shell of a former residence and two small outbuildings, along with a septic system and well, are on the property. 

Funding will be needed for demolition, removal, and cleanup of the structures. This is expected to be in the form of a future capital budget request for like needs on several properties within the Chehalis Valley, which would include this site. 

The Commission will also decide on the agency’s budget requests and policy proposals for the 2024 legislative session.

On Friday afternoon, commissioners will hear an overview of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation from an invited guest, Dr. John Organ. The Commission will decide on the 2024 spring bear hunt petition, and a freshwater forage fish management policy.

The Commission will close Friday with a briefing on social science and its application to fish and wildlife conservation.

The Commission meeting resumes Saturday with open public input followed by a briefing and public comment on the co-manager hatchery policy update and the Willapa Bay salmon management draft policy review.

The August meeting will be hybrid, with public attendance available via webinar, phone, and in–person at the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street SE, Room 172, in Olympia. The meeting will be recorded and posted online so people can watch afterwards at their convenience. For more information about attending, please view the meeting agenda online.

Visit the WDFW webpage for information on how to register to submit testimony either virtually or in-person. Registration deadlines are in effect for public input opportunities throughout the meeting. All members of the public are invited to share their perspective and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, veteran status, or basis of disability.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the WDFW. WDFW works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.