OLYMPIA - Four public meetings will be held later this month to discuss a proposal to increase hunting site access through a new $5 fee on state hunting licenses.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is proposing the $5 increase in hunting license fees to expand hunter access opportunities on private land. The proposal was developed in response to hunter requests during development of the state's 2003-09 Game Management Plan. Hunters said they wanted greater access to private lands and that they were willing to pay for it.
Over the past several months, WDFW has been working with stakeholders from hunting and conservation organizations as well as landowners to develop new proposals.
The proposals will be the topic of public meetings that will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., on the following dates:
- Aug. 23 at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver
- Aug. 24 at the LaQuinta Inn and Conference Center in Tacoma
- Aug. 25 at the Ramada Inn Airport in Spokane
In addition, on Aug. 28 WDFW Wildlife Program staff members will discuss the new hunter access proposals as part of a game management workshop in the Samuelson Union Building, 400 E. University Way at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. The game workshop is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the hunter access proposals scheduled for the afternoon session.
"It was very clear while developing the Game Management Plan that one of the highest priorities for hunters is better access to private lands," said Dave Ware, WDFW's Game Division Manager. "Past efforts to increase access were very successful, but were mainly concentrated in the agricultural areas of the Columbia Basin. The hunter concerns we heard were mainly about access to industrial timberlands and key pheasant and waterfowl hunting areas."
The proposed fee would generate funds to provide hunter-management assistance to landowners, Ware noted. The funds would be available to help property owners with roads and gate maintenance, litter cleanup, security, liability insurance and damage mitigation.
Ware estimated that up to one million acres could be secured for hunter access with proceeds from the proposed fee increase.
"We understand that support for a license increase is never easy, but a program that makes a significant difference to the amount of private land available to hunters will cost money," said Ware, "It's up to hunters to let us know if that is worth the license increase."
Written comments on the proposal are also being solicited by WDFW until Sept. 15, 2004. Comments may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or be mailed to: Wildlife Program, WDFW, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia WA 98501, Attention: George Tsukamoto.
A copy of the proposals and an opinion survey can be found on the WDFW website at or may be requested by calling the WDFW Wildlife Program at (360) 902-2515 or sending a written request to the above address.