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July 23, 2004
Contact: Mike O'Malley, (360) 902-2377;
Or: Mick Cope (360) 902-2691

WDFW seeks new wildlife-themed license plate backgrounds

OLYMPIA - Vehicle owners could have several new options for special license plates if Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) design proposals are approved by a state review panel.

The agency is developing a series of license plates with six different wildlife-themed backgrounds using eagle, elk, deer, pheasant, bear and waterfowl images.

Proceeds from sales of the plates would support a wide range of WDFW-related programs, including wildlife viewing, habitat enhancement, recreational access and other management activities associated with the state's natural resources.

WDFW must submit at least 2,000 valid signatures to the Washington State Special License Plate Review Board from potentially interested patrons for each of the six plate designs before plates can be made available. The board's recommendation would be submitted to the Washington State Legislature as a bill for deliberation and possible adoption into law.

Designs and signature sheets are available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/license_plates/index.htm on the Internet for downloading and printing. Signature sheets are also available at WDFW regional offices.

"A physical signature is required, and they must be submitted to the department by Aug. 21," said Michael O'Malley, WDFW watchable wildlife manager. "Signing the form is not an obligation to buy a plate, but it does give us the ability to contact individuals with follow-up information should the design proposals pass," he said.

Individuals can sign for more than one plate design and would be allowed to purchase one for each car, motorcycle or travel trailer owned.

The proposed price of the special background plates is $40 for new, and $30 for renewals, in addition to the regular license fees.

The Legislature in 2004 approved a request from WDFW and the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to prepare a strategic plan for developing wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Wildlife viewing is the fastest-growing recreational pursuit in the state, particularly in rural areas, providing almost $1 billion annually to Washington's economy.

"A number of projects were identified as critical to making Washington a premier wildlife-viewing destination, and this special license plate is one important way of funding many of those activities," O'Malley said.