OLYMPIA — Washington drivers with personalized license plates will now be able to display their messages on plates designed with a special background, rather than the standard Mount Rainier design. Among the background choices available are five wildlife-related themes developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Previously, drivers had two choices — to place their personal message on a plate with the standard background, or to buy a plate with a special design — but they couldn’t do both. Recent legislation now allows drivers to combine the two.
“Combining the two options not only allows people to place their personal message against a beautiful background, it benefits wildlife protection programs that depend on revenue from special license plate sales,” said Rocky Beach, WDFW wildlife diversity manager.
Since the state began selling personalized license plates more than 30 years ago, all proceeds have gone into a special, non-game wildlife-conservation fund managed by WDFW. Currently, 87,547 Washington license plates sport a personal message, generating approximately $2.6 million annually for non-game wildlife programs.
In 2005, state legislators added another opportunity to raise revenue by approving the sale of license plates with special backgrounds designed by various organizations throughout the state, including WDFW. Proceeds from these special license plates help support programs within each organization.
WDFW offers five background choices — a bald eagle, an orca whale, a black bear, an elk and a mule deer — all set in a natural environment. As of September 2007, nearly 11,000 license plates with a wildlife-related background have been sold, generating approximately $300,000 for endangered species recovery, habitat restoration, wildlife viewing and protection, and hunted-species management.
Beach said he’s pleased drivers have another option that will benefit people and wildlife.
“Washington citizens love the outdoors and the state’s natural beauty. Buying a specialized license plate gives people a chance to help protect our natural resources and make a personal statement at the same time.”
Details on fees, license-plate choices and transaction information are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/license_plates.