June 12, 2006
Contact: Madonna Luers, (509) 892-7853
Fish and Wildlife Commission
approves land transactions
WENATCHEE – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved state land transactions and heard updates on Puget Sound crab management and other issues during a recent meeting here.
The commission is a nine-member citizen panel, appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
During its June 9-10 meeting, the commission approved additions to the Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County of five land parcels totaling about 173 acres. The property was purchased with state funding through the Interagency Coalition for Outdoor Recreation and federal funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The commission also approved the acquisition of 84 acres of Driscoll Island near the confluence of the Similkameen and Okanogan rivers in Okanogan County; transfer of 255 acres in Kittitas County from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR); acceptance of 279-acre Eagle Island in Lewis River from Clark County; acceptance of about nine acres on Discovery Bay in Jefferson County from Jefferson Land Trust; transfer of about an acre near Voights Creek Hatchery in Pierce County from the state Department of Transportation for pollution abatement pond; and a road easement on Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County.
In other action, the commission reduced the statewide maximum-size limit for retention of green sturgeon in the Columbia River commercial fishery from 66 inches to 60 inches, to provide more protection for the species, which will soon be federally listed as threatened. The commission also consolidated sportfishing rules under the Washington Administrative Code for ease in locating rules.
The commission also was briefed by WDFW staff on:
- Puget Sound Dungeness crab fishery management, including historical and current catches, recreational and commercial catch accounting and new options for recreational catch reporting by phone and Internet, emphasizing the use of new catch record cards.
- State invasive species response plans to reduce the impact of non-native tunicates or “sea squirts” in Puget Sound, including WDFW’s first-phase use of commercial divers to remove tunicates from boats and docks.
- A new policy and review process for identifying and prioritizing land acquisitions, including evaluations and rankings and input from WDFW citizen Lands Management Advisory Council.
- Restoration of Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County following last year’s School wildfire, including salvage logging, stream sedimentation and weed control, replanting vegetation and reconstruction of fence to keep elk off private agricultural lands.
- Integration of Hydraulics Project Approval (HPA) and Forest Practices Application (FPA) rules to provide permit streamlining while ensuring that non-fish-bearing streams on forestlands remain protected.
- WildWatchCam, which offers live footage of 10 species of wildlife from remote cameras on WDFW’s Internet website
- The state’s recently approved Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy to help species and habitats of greatest need.
- Special permits for use of body-gripping traps to remove problem wildlife. The number of permits issued increased from 337 in 2001 to 789 in 2005, with nearly 1,000 expected to be issued this year.
- Public safety cougar-removal trends over the six years of the program. The number of complaints has held steady, and the location of most complaints has shifted to western Washington game-management units since initiation of pilot hunt project in northeastern Washington.
- Deer and elk crop damage claim trends, expenditures, and control responses.
- Proposed rule amendments for sale of wildlife parts including out-of-state game farm deer and elk meat and cougar hides, to be considered for action at the commission’s August meeting.
- Deployment of the new Washington Interactive Licensing Database (WILD) system for phone, Internet and dealer recreational license sales.
- Proposed 2007-09 WDFW operating and capital budget concepts.