OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has decided to give citizens more time to comment on possible revisions to the state's recreational license structure and fees.
The commission had originally been scheduled to finalize its recommendations to the Legislature during a conference call Oct. 17.
However, after receiving a number of requests from citizens seeking additional time to comment on the possible revisions, the commission decided to finalize its recommendations during a conference call on Oct. 24, at 9:00 a.m.
The commission will still hold a conference call on Oct. 17 to hear a staff briefing on the license recommendations. However, no decisions will be made.
Citizens who wish to listen to either conference call should contact the commission office in advance at (360) 902-2449.
The license change discussions result from a legislative directive requiring the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to evaluate the adequacy and structure of hunting and fishing license fees and to make its recommendations by Nov. 1. The directive comes at a time when the Legislature is confronted with a large general fund deficit. License fee increases are subject to approval by the Legislature.
Public meetings on the potential license changes have already been held in Spokane, Vancouver, Mill Creek and Yakima. Another meeting is scheduled for tonight in Wenatchee at the Chelan County Fire District #1 meeting room, 206 Easy Street. A final meeting will be held tomorrow (Oct. 16) in Montesano at City Hall, located at 112 N. Main Street. Both meetings will run from 7 to 9 p.m.
The license change proposals may be viewed on the WDFW website and comments may be submitted electronically from that site. The department will also accept written public comments sent by mail to Frank Hawley, Licensing Director, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia WA 98501. All written or e-mailed comments should be submitted by Oct. 24.
The proposed revisions include pegging future license fee increases to an inflation index; raising the cost of shellfish licenses to more closely reflect fishing license fees; reducing existing discounts for senior fishing licenses; offering limited opportunities to hunt deer and elk in more than one weapon season; selling first-turkey tags separately from small game licenses; making changes to the pheasant punch card system; replacing the current conservation patron vehicle decal with a wildlife stewardship decal; expanding temporary fishing license options; establishing a fee for catch record cards; offering a limited number of permanent lifetime recreational licenses and establishing a raffle for those permanent licenses; revising the fishing guide license fee structure, and offering license buyers the option of making a $1 donation to youth outdoor education.