OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will review and take action on the management policy for Columbia River spring chinook salmon during its regular public meeting Jan. 13-14 in Olympia.
Also on the commission’s agenda are proposals to authorize a new type of big-game permit and issue hunting permits to a private landowner under the state’s new hunter-access program.
The nine-member commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will meet in room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street S.E. starting at 9 a.m. Jan. 13 and 14.
Public comment periods are scheduled both days.
Since 2001, Washington and Oregon have managed the spring chinook fishery on the lower Columbia River under selective-fishing rules, requiring recreational and commercial fishers to release any wild salmon or wild steelhead they intercept.
Policies adopted by both states also limit accidental interceptions of wild spring chinook salmon and wild winter steelhead, some of which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Other provisions establish in-season management responsibilities along with allocation targets for recreational and commercial fisheries.
With current guidelines set to expire, both states will revisit concurrent policies that provide the framework for non-treaty fisheries targeting hatchery-reared chinook salmon in the lower river.
“By working cooperatively, Washington and Oregon have been able to provide important recreational and commercial fishing opportunities, while also providing protection for wild fish,” said Bill Tweit, policy leader for the department on Columbia River fisheries. “Commissions in both states are now being asked how they want to proceed in future years.”
WDFW will propose management and allocation policies similar to those in effect in recent years, although “final decisions are up to the commission,” Tweit said.
The Washington commission will consider adopting a new spring chinook policy Jan. 14, the second day of its two-day meeting in Olympia. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take up the issue Jan. 6 meeting in Salem.
Other issues on the agenda at the Washington commission’s January meeting include:
Landowner hunting permits: The commission is scheduled to consider issuing special hunting permits to a private land manager in Grant County, who has offered to open his lands to hunters under a new access policy adopted in November. With the commission’s approval, the landowner could sell hunters the opportunity to use the special permits on his land, provided that he reserves a portion of those permits for licensed hunters drawn at random.
Multiple-season big game permits: Under legislation approved last year, the commission may direct WDFW to offer permits allowing a limited number of deer and elk hunters to participate in archery, muzzleloader and modern-firearm seasons in the same year. Permit holders would still be limited to one deer or elk per year.
Threatened and endangered species: After conducting status reviews, WDFW has recommended that the streaked horned lark and Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly be designated as an endangered species, and the Mazma pocket gopher as threatened, on the state list of threatened and endangered species. WDFW has also recommended that the Aleutian Canada goose be removed from the list, due to the bird’s steady recovery.
In addition, WDFW will update the commission on its work on several issues, including a scientific summary of Washington’s steelhead populations, proposed shark-finning rules and a reciprocal licensing agreement with Oregon covering recreational fisheries on the Columbia River and adjacent ocean waters.
WDFW plans to release a draft of its scientific paper on steelhead for public review early next year. Once completed, the study will lay the foundation for a new, statewide steelhead-management plan scheduled for completion in 2007.
For a complete agenda of the commission’s Jan. 13-14 meeting in Olympia, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm on the WDFW website or call (360) 902-2449.