OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comments on a newly updated program with a long history of protecting fish life.
The department’s Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) program is responsible for issuing permits for bulkheads, culverts, docks and other projects and activities in and around state waters.
In an average year, HPA biologists review approximately 2,500 projects around the state to ensure they meet fish-protection standards outlined in the state’s Hydraulic Code rules.
Jeff Davis, assistant director of WDFW’s Habitat Program, said the department welcomes comments on recent updates to those rules, efforts to streamline the permitting process, and other aspects of the HPA program.
“Our goal is to protect fish life and help people complete their projects within budget and within state guidelines,” Davis said. “We believe we’ve made real progress toward that goal in recent years and want to hear what others have to say.”
Davis said WDFW will consider comments sent to email@example.com through April 15, 2016 in developing its recommendations for the 2017 Legislative Session.
State habitat managers also plan to discuss the future of the program with tribal and other governmental representatives, environmental groups, business organizations and others involved in HPA issues, Davis said.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for WDFW, approved a wide range of updates to the Hydraulic Code rules in 2014 after six years of discussions with interested parties. The new rules, constituting the first comprehensive update since 1994, set new standards in areas ranging from culvert design to decking materials used in overwater structures.
Also in 2014, WDFW launched a new permitting system that allows applicants to complete the entire application process online and makes applications visible to the public on WDFW's website. The system reduced the standard HPA application from 14 pages to three.
The HPA program operates under the authority of the state Hydraulics Code, approved by the Legislature in 1943 to regulate activities that “will use, divert, obstruct, or change the natural flow or bed of any of the salt or freshwaters of the state.”
Additional information about the state’s HPA program is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/