OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission held a public hearing on proposed rule changes for gold panning and mineral prospecting activities and received a briefing on rule proposals for the 2009-10 sportfishing season during a public meeting here Oct. 3-4.
People interested in prospecting packed the meeting room, where the commission reviewed new amendments to state regulations for gold panning and mineral prospecting, activities that can potentially affect fish habitat.
During the meeting, several people asked the commission to adjust work windows to allow for better prospecting opportunities, while others called for an increase in restrictions in some areas to provide more protection for fish and fish habitat.
The new amendments were developed with input from a 17-member workgroup and written comments received from the public.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is scheduled to take action on final adoption of the rule changes during its Nov. 7-8 meeting in Olympia. Following the rule adoption, WDFW will publish a new Gold and Fish pamphlet for use beginning in 2009.
The proposed rules, along with information on how they were developed, are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hab/goldfish/mineral_prospect.htm.
In other business, the commission was briefed on rule proposals for the 2009-10 sportfishing season. WDFW is currently accepting public comment on the rule proposals, which affect various freshwater and saltwater fisheries around Washington.
Sportfishing rules currently under consideration include:
- Replacing the non-buoyant lure restriction with a new anti-snagging rule (only one single-point hook, fish must be hooked in the mouth; applies to all species except it only applies to salmon and steelhead in a portion of the mainstem Columbia River);
- Changing the annual opening day of fishing on some streams from June 1 to the first Saturday in June;
- Creating a new Marine Protected Area in a portion of Saltwater State Park.
- Changing the daily limit of salmon and steelhead in the mainstem Columbia River to two salmon or two steelhead or one of each;
- Prohibiting the use or possession of live aquatic animals for bait in freshwater;
More details on those and other proposed rules are available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/. People who would like to comment on the proposed rules can submit written comments by mail to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501. Comments mailed to WDFW must be received by Nov. 8.
The public also will have an opportunity to provide testimony, as well as written comments, on the proposed sportfishing rule changes during the commission’s Nov. 7-8 meeting in Olympia.
During the October meeting, the commission also was briefed on:
- Discussions under way with landowners, stakeholders and other interested parties regarding the proposed boundary adjustment for the Johnson/Debay Slough Game Reserve.
- The history and development of WDFW's wildlife reserve system.
- Proposed land exchange between WDFW and Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
- WDFW's review and input on an upcoming public survey conducted by Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
For information about future commission meetings, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm.