OLYMPIA – Drought preparations, cougar management and hunter access programs will all be topics of discussion when the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meets June 17-18 in Yakima.
The nine-member commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is also scheduled to take action on several land transactions and consider a proposal to raise the maximum buyback price for a commercial sea-cucumber license.
The public meeting will begin at 9 a.m. June 17 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 1507 North First Street, in Yakima.
With record-low stream flows occurring across the state, members of WDFW’s drought response team will brief commissioners on the department’s plans to protect fish and wildlife as the drought continues to deepen.
The department has already initiated several “early action projects,” including efforts to secure water supplies for critical fish-hatchery operations, monitor fish runs, prepare for fish salvage and transfer, and ensure the safety of boat ramps, said Steve Keller, who heads the WDFW drought team.
Lessons learned during the 2001 drought helped the department get a jump on this year’s planning effort, he said.
“Even before the Governor’s declaration in March, we knew the potential risks of a drought to the state’s fish and wildlife populations,” Keller said. “This meeting will give us an opportunity to let the commission – and the public – know what we’re doing this year as part of the state’s overall drought response.”
In other matters, WDFW staff will brief the commission on a pilot cougar hunt in northeast Washington and on the status of efforts to expand general hunting opportunities on private lands. In addition, commissioners will receive updates on:
- The selection of a new service provider for WDFW’s electronic licensing system;
- Procedures in effect since 2001 for issuing special trapping permits;
- The results of “damage hunts” to reduce property damage caused by deer and elk;
- Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups, created in 1990 to involve citizen volunteers in salmon recovery and enhancement efforts; and
- Volunteer projects supported by the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA).
Although most of the meeting is dedicated to briefings on these issues, the commission is scheduled to take action on several land acquisitions designed to secure critical habitat for Washington’s fish and wildlife populations.
Acquisitions under consideration range from eight acres of prime waterfowl and salmon habitat in Whatcom County to a 1,705-acre addition to the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area in Asotin County.
The commission will also consider a recommendation to raise the maximum buyback price for a commercial sea-cucumber license from $8,000 to $12,000.
To view the complete agenda for the Fish and Wildlife Commission's June 17-18, 2005 meeting click here.