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600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

This document is provided for archival purposes only.
Archived documents do not reflect current WDFW regulations or policy and may contain factual inaccuracies.

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November 10, 2014
Contact: Commission Office, (360) 902-2267

Commission adopts updated rules
for construction projects near water

OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has adopted a comprehensive update to the state's Hydraulic Code rules, which regulate construction projects and other work in or near state waters to protect fish life.

The commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved dozens of changes in the statewide rules during a public meeting Nov. 7-8 in Olympia. The revised rules were developed by WDFW over the past three years with extensive public review.

Common projects requiring approval under the state's hydraulic rules include work on bulkheads, culverts, piers and docks.

Miranda Wecker, who chairs the commission, said the revised hydraulic code rules reflect developments in environmental science, technology, and state law since the last comprehensive update in 1994.

"Much has changed over the past 20 years in the field of fish and shellfish conservation," Wecker said. "The rules approved today will protect those important resources and reflect the department's efforts to streamline the application process for permits required to conduct work in and around state waters."

Some of the rules proposed by WDFW set new standards for projects ranging from culvert design to decking materials that allow light to penetrate to the water below. Others clarify existing policies, including a statewide ban on the use of creosote in aquatic areas.

Before the commission took action on the new rules, Wecker expressed appreciation to the hundreds of people who provided suggestions on earlier drafts.

"These rules are better - and more clearly stated - thanks to the comments the department received during the public comment process," she said.

The final rules approved by the commission are posted on WDFW's website at

In other business, the commission approved two land transactions, including the purchase of 2,005 acres of riparian and high meadow lands in Asotin County. WDFW's plan to acquire that land is part of a multi-phased plan to expand the department's Chief Joseph Wildlife Area and preserve critical habitat for threatened salmon, steelhead and trout, as well as deer, bighorn sheep and elk.

The property, currently owned by 4-O Land & Livestock, LLC, includes a mile-long section of the Grande Ronde River and stretches 1.5 miles on either side of Wenatchee Creek. WDFW has secured state and federal funds to purchase the property, which has been appraised at $3.6 million.

The commission also approved the transfer of 54 acres of land west of Darrington to the Stillaguamish Tribe, which conducts a monitoring program for coho salmon at the site. WDFW has not actively managed the land, known as Fortson Ponds, in the last 10 years. The tribe will assume obligations under the original state grant funding to continue the coho program and maintain public access.

In addition, the commission held a public hearing on efforts to develop of a new policy for managing Willapa Bay salmon fisheries. Commissioners also received briefings on WDFW's grazing policies and proposed revisions to coastal commercial crab fishing rules.