OLYMPIA -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet Sept. 8 to
vote on a final environmental impact statement for a state Wild Salmonid Policy.
Commissioners also will convene Oct. 3 to vote on the policy. That vote will occur
following two new public hearings in both eastern and western Washington.
In recent months, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
biologists have worked side-by-side with fishers, farmers, tribal members, businesses
and others to develop a comprehensive EIS designed to provide a broad framework for
the development of a policy to rescue the state's troubled wild salmon runs.
At least twelve public meetings attended by commissioners and other
department officials were held statewide to discuss a draft of the EIS and obtain public
suggestions on how to improve it. WDFW regional personnel also conducted numerous
smaller public meetings statewide. A total of 1,385 verbal public comments and 471
written public comments were received.
Unlike the policy, which will be a concise document that specifically states what
steps should be taken to restore fish populations, the EIS is designed to explore
environmental impacts associated with different policy options.
"The commission's vote on the final EIS on Sept. 8 will be a major step on the
way to adoption of a policy that will provide the citizens of Washington with a
comprehensive blueprint to restore and protect our wild salmon resources," said
WDFW Director Bern Shanks.
"Without this policy, the federal government would surely invoke its authority
under the Endangered Species Act and assume a much greater role in the
management of our state's salmon species," Shanks added.
Various changes in harvest and hatchery operations will be recommended in the
The final EIS also is expected to recommend the establishment of watershed-
based citizen councils to reach local decisions on how to provide salmon with the
habitat necessary for their life needs. WDFW, other state agencies and tribes would
provide expert advice to the citizen councils.
The EIS also is expected to stress the importance of maintaining the state's
strong forestry and agricultural economies while rebuilding salmon runs, and
acknowledge the role of existing regulations, voluntary measures and individual
landowner initiatives in developing watershed use plans.
Copies of the final EIS can be obtained by contacting the WDFW in Olympia at
Commissioners will act on the final EIS during a 4 p.m. telephone conference
call on Sept. 8. The public may listen to the call on a speaker phone at the Department
of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St.,
Two new public hearings to receive testimony have been scheduled; Sept. 25,
7 - 11 p.m., The Mountaineer's Club, 300 Third Ave. West in Seattle; Sept. 27,
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Cavanaugh's at Yakima Center, 607 E. Yakima Ave. in Yakima.
The previously scheduled Sept. 20 commission meeting has been canceled.
Commissioners will vote on the Wild Salmon Policy on Oct. 3 in Ellensburg. The
meeting will be held at the Best Western Ellensburg Inn.