OLYMPIA - Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Jeff Koenings today announced plans to establish a Citizens Advisory Committee to assist the department in managing its lands for fish and wildlife and related recreation.
WDFW owns and controls over 800,000 acres statewide, ranging from a few acres to thousands of acres of big game winter range. The department also manages over 600 water access sites.
"We are managing these lands for fish and wildlife and related recreation, and in doing so we want to be good neighbors with private landowners around the state," Koenings said. "As such, it's important that the public be involved in our deliberative processes as much as possible. This advisory committee will help us make better decisions on our lands, and share responsibility for sound stewardship"
Koenings noted that as Washington's population continues to grow, fish and wildlife habitat continues to shrink. Yet there are increased expectations on the agency's land both for fish and wildlife populations, and sometimes competing expectations for recreation. The agency's lands are increasingly being asked to fill a niche for a variety of recreational uses such as wildlife watching, kayaking, camping, rock climbing and hiking.
In addition, forest practices, livestock grazing, and other activities which may or may not be appropriate for WDFW lands are being proposed - or questioned - by the public.
"Our mission is sound stewardship of fish and wildlife, and we need to make sure we're balancing how and what we do for the public with what we do for Washington's fish and wildlife," Koenings said.
"One way of doing that is to ask our neighbors what they think has worked and hasn't worked, and what their expectations of us are for the future."
For details on the committee, including proposed meeting schedule, the issues it will be asked to address, and appointee term lengths, contact Mark Quinn, who oversees the department's Lands Program. Quinn can be reached at (360) 902-2402.
Citizens who want to serve on the committee should submit a letter of interest to Koenings by March 31,2002. Letters should be mailed to the director's attention at 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091. Letters can also be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. # # #