WA Fish & Wildlife Commission to meet over 3 days to cover a number of items

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to hear briefings on invasive European green crab, lower Columbia River white sturgeon policy, commercial shellfish regulation proposals, and other topics at a meeting scheduled from today through Saturday.

The Commission kicks off work today with meetings of its Big Tent, Habitat, and Fish committees to discuss several items, including the agency sustainability plan, shrubsteppe restoration proviso, and coastal steelhead management.

On Friday, the Commission will hear briefings and take public comment on proposed rule updates for commercial shellfish fisheries, as well as an annual update on white sturgeon population and management in the lower Columbia River.

WDFW staff will brief the Commission on the new South Puget Sound Wildlife Area Management Plan, which will guide the Department’s management and budgeting decisions for the 5,790-acre wildlife area spread across Mason, Kitsap, Pierce, and Thurston counties. The plan was developed with the help of the South Puget Sound Wildlife Area Advisory Committee, a diverse group of local partners and community members interested in conservation and outdoor recreation. The plan also underwent a 30-day public comment period for neighbors, partners, wildlife area visitors, and other interested people to provide feedback.

The Commission will also hear an update on a five-year, 230-acre grazing permit on the Spears Unit of the Cowlitz Wildlife Area. The goal of the permit is to reduce reed canarygrass, which will improve habitat for native wildlife such as elk and waterfowl and create positive working relationships with nearby residents.

To conclude the agenda on Friday, the Commission will hear a briefing on European green crabs, including the immediate actions to implement Gov. Inslee’s emergency order regarding infestations at the Lummi Nation’s Sea Pond and Washington’s coastal bays, and the Department’s emergency measures funding request to the state legislature. More information and regular updates on WDFW’s European green crab emergency management are available on this webpage.

On Saturday, Feb. 19, University of Washington staff will brief the Commission on a wolf population model they developed, working with WDFW staff, that estimates wolf population dynamics in Washington, the species’ use of space and habitat, and expected time to meet state-level downlisting and delisting criteria.

The Commission will take open public comment on Friday morning, Feb. 18 and Saturday morning, Feb. 19, and 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. Members of the public interested in providing verbal public comment can pre-register on WDFW’s website.

The Commission will also a hold special virtual meeting on Friday, Feb. 25 to respond to a petition to provide a catch and release fishery on the Chelan River and a deer and elk baiting petition.

All of these meetings will be conducted online and be available to the public to watch or listen via webinar or conference call. Find more information on how to comment and to see agendas, visit WDFW’s website. The meetings will also be recorded and posted online so people can watch afterwards at their convenience. 

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.

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email ([email protected]).

For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.