PORT ANGELES – At a public meeting here Friday, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a package of new rules for public conduct on lands managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and deferred action on others.
The proposed rules, developed by WDFW after an extensive public-input process, addressed dumping, camping, commercial use, fire-building, firearm use and other activities on WDFW wildlife areas and water-access sites around the state. The rules will go into effect by Jan. 31, 2008.
The nine-member commission, which sets policy for WDFW, deferred action on three rules dealing with livestock grazing, resource removal and vehicle use. The commission requested initiation of a new rule-making process to further revise those rules and gather additional public input.
In the interim, the current state regulations pertaining to livestock grazing, resource removal and vehicle use on department lands remain in effect.
The complete public-conduct rule package is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wac232/.
The commission also voted to:
- Add two new spring bear hunts on managed timberlands in Whatcom, Snohomish and Skagit counties.
- Provide multi-season hunting permits as incentives to recruit and retain hunter education instructors.
- Reduce turkey raffles permits from two to one; expand eastern Washington deer auctions and raffles from one to two.
- Change and extend several designated deer and elk areas along with the development of additional areas to increase recreational opportunities.
- Acquire 516 acres in Klickitat County and lease two .13-acre sites in Grant and Yakima counties.
- Add a new non-toxic shot requirement for hunting at the Chinook pheasant release site in Pacific County.
- Approve a master hunter policy that outlines stronger accountability standards and improvements to the Master Hunter Program and provides for the development of a comprehensive road management program.
In other business, the commission was briefed on a new rule that would strengthen certification requirements for people enrolling in the Master Hunter Program (formerly known as the Advanced Hunter Education Program). The new rule also would allow WDFW to suspend participation in the program for unethical or unlawful behavior. Final adoption of the Master Hunter Program rules will be considered at the commission’s Jan. 10-12 meeting.
The commission was also briefed on:
- The Columbia River spring and summer chinook allocation policies and proposed new policies that will take effect in 2008.
- The draft statewide steelhead management plan, which represents the preferred alternative contained in the proposed Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
- A recommendation to reclassify the status of the bald eagle in Washington state from threatened to sensitive.
At the meeting, the commission also formalized the WDFW director’s goals and objectives for the remainder of the biennium.