OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider updating the state's reform policy on Columbia River salmon management during a meeting scheduled Jan. 13-14 in Vancouver, Wash.
In addition, the commission is scheduled to review the protective status of three state wildlife species, and consider adopting updates to its North of Falcon salmon season-setting policy.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene at the Heathman Lodge, 7801 N.E. Greenwood Dr. in Vancouver. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. both days.
A complete agenda is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.
During the meeting, commissioners are scheduled to consider updating the next phase of the commission's Columbia River reform policy, adopted in 2013 to restructure salmon fisheries below Bonneville Dam. The public also will have an opportunity to provide comment on the proposed updates during the meeting.
Developed in conjunction with Oregon, the policy was designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing in the lower Columbia River, and transition gillnet fisheries into off-channel areas by Dec. 31, 2016. The policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in these areas, while expanding commercial fishing opportunities through the use of alternative fishing gear.
Options currently under consideration by the commission would:
- Extend the transition period of the current plan.
- Adopt the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff proposal for "rebalancing" commercial and recreational benefits for spring and summer chinook salmon.
- Follow the current policy.
- Follow the current policy, but explicitly allow a gillnet fishery for upriver bright fall chinook upstream from the Lewis River in 2017 and 2018
Options under consideration are posted on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/lower_columbia/options.html.
In other action, the commission will consider keeping woodland caribou, western pond turtles and sandhill cranes on Washington's list of endangered species. Surveys show that the populations of all three species remain below the state's recovery goals.
The commission also is scheduled to consider updates to the North of Falcon policy, which provides direction to fishery managers in defining annual salmon fishing seasons in Washington's waters. As part of that discussion, the commission will receive a briefing on efforts to provide greater transparency during the season-setting process.
In addition, the commission will consider several land transactions, including the purchase of 1,280 acres of Department of Natural Resources land in the Stemilt Basin in Chelan County for $1.95 million. The purchase allows the department to preserve habitat for numerous fish and wildlife species and provide public access for outdoor recreation.
In other business, the commission will receive briefings on management of lower Columbia River sturgeon and the department's management actions this summer to stop the Profanity Peak wolf pack from preying on livestock in northeast Washington.