OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved several land transactions and received a briefing on angling rules proposed for the 2008 sportfishing season at a public meeting here Oct. 12.
But the nine-member commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), deferred scheduled action on proposed new rules for public conduct on lands owned or managed by the department.
The proposed rules, developed by WDFW with extensive public review, are designed to address issues ranging from fire-building to vehicle use on 800,000 acres of wildlife lands and 600 water-access sites around the state.
“We’re getting close, but we want to make sure we have considered every aspect of these rule proposals,” said Jerry Gutzwiler, commission chair. “We have a responsibility to ensure that each rule protects fish, wildlife and their habitats, while maximizing public access to these areas.”
Action on the proposed rules was deferred until the commission’s Dec. 7-8 meeting in Port Angeles. The proposed rules, amended to reflect input received in public meetings and written testimony, are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/proposed_wac_232-13.htm.
In a separate action, the commission approved the acquisition of 77.6-acres on Padilla Bay in Skagit County, 77.8 acres on the upper Yakima River in Kittitas County and 12.2 acres on the Methow River in Okanogan County. All three areas provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife.
The commission also received its first briefing from WDFW staff on 78 proposed sportfishing rules for the 2008 season. Proposals include measures to:
- Replace the non-buoyant lure restriction with a new anti-snagging rule (only one single hook, fish must be hooked in the mouth, night closure;
- Change the size measurement for sturgeon from total length to fork length;
- Separate limits for largemouth and smallmouth bass statewide;
- Allow anglers to purchase a second catch record card for hatchery steelhead; and
- Make season and area adjustments to protect listed bull trout and steelhead stocks.
All 78 proposals for freshwater and saltwater fisheries are available on WDFW’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/index.htm). Printed copies of the package are available by calling (360) 902-2700.
The commission will hear public testimony on the proposed rules at its Nov. 2-3 meeting in Chelan and is scheduled to vote on a final rules package in February 2008. Written comments can be submitted through Nov. 1 to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail: 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501.