Local land purchase approved by WDFW Commission

Land in Grays Harbor looks to be added to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife inventory after a recent decision by the Fish and Wildilife Commission.

At their recent meeting, the commission approved a number of land transactions, adopted their strategic plan, honors community award recipients, and target shooting rule.

Locally, the Chehalis Wildlife Area will expand with the approved purchase of 88.5 acres in Grays Harbor County.

This property contains 10 acres of wetland habitat and 2,100 feet of shoreline on Vance Creek, which supports bull trout, coho salmon, Chinook salmon and Olympic mudminnow.

In addition to that land, two other wildlife area purchases were approved that will add acreage through several land transactions.

This includes  112 acres in Thurston County near the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area that includes critical habitat for the endangered Oregon spotted frog and the expansion of the Big Bend Wildlife Area in Douglas County by 1,365 acres by transferring property owned by the Department of Natural Resources to WDFW.

In other business, the Commission also approved a 25-Year Strategic Plan designed to proactively address conservation challenges, engage communities through recreation and stewardship, deliver science that informs Washington’s most pressing fish and wildlife questions, and move WDFW toward operational and environmental excellence. Designed to serve as a “living document” the plan will be revisited every two years, or more frequently. The Commission requested quarterly updates to monitor and support its implementation.

The Commission further approved proposed amendments to the Washington Administrative Code covering firearms and target practice on department lands. The revised target shooting rule will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021 and provides more direction to target shooters to increase safe practices, such as requiring a backstop.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, the Commission reviewed an update on the Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy (C-3622) and Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy Comprehensive Review. The Commission received a summary of new public comments and agreed to further review the topic. More information is available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/willapa-bay-policy-review.

The Commission also helped recognize seven WDFW award recipients who are working every day to support the fish, wildlife and people of Washington.

The WDFW Organization of the Year award went to Ducks Unlimited’s Pacific Northwest Field Office. Ducks Unlimited has been a strong partner in the department’s efforts to protect, conserve, and restore wetlands across Washington. In the last year, their work has realized significant improvements spanning Leque Island in Puget Sound, Elk River near Westport, in the Columbia River Basin near Moses Lake, and Giffin Lake near Sunnyside.

This year’s WDFW Landowner of the Year Award went to brothers Mark and Gary Bailey. These eastern Washington small forest landowners have partnered with the department for more than 30 years to provide quality fish and wildlife habitat, hunter access and hunter mentorship opportunities on their privately-owned lands.

The Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award went to hunter education instructor Marty Kotske. Hoffer has worked for 15 years to further hunting safety and education wherever he goes, including the instruction of more than 300 new hunters in Puyallup.

Two individuals were also honored as WDFW Volunteer of the Year. Rachel Voss, with the Mule Deer Foundation, serves on multiple WDFW advisory boards, advocates tirelessly for the needs of wildlife and is a strong ally for Washington hunters. Jim Terry has worked alongside WDFW staff by kayak, foot and vehicle across Thurston, Lewis and Pierce counties to support the recovery of struggling local species. Director Susewind further recognized community member Terry Williams with a Director’s Award for Williams’ work to build collaborative forums with tribes, utilities, governments and communities to tackle tough fisheries and natural resource issues.

“The contributions of these volunteers, private landowners and partners is impressive. Their commitments are helping us to realize so much more for fish and wildlife,” says FWC Chairman Carpenter. “I, truly, thank you for your dedication.” More information is available on award recipients’ efforts on the WDFW Medium blog.

The meeting was recorded and will available to the public on WDFW’s website.