Olympia - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adoption of a new livestock grazing policy when it convenes for a regularly-scheduled meeting Sept. 27-28 in Walla Walla.
A draft of the policy, which would pertain to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lands throughout the state, has been out for public review since August when it was first presented to commission members for comment.
The Department's Lands Advisory Council, a recently-formed citizen's group formed by WDFW Director Jeff Koenings to assist the Department in reviewing land policies, has also been reviewing the draft policy.
The comments of council members and other citizens are expected to be presented to the commission during the Walla Walla meeting. The meeting will be held at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center. The lands policy is expected to be presented to commission members on the first day of their two-day meeting.
During the two-day meeting, the nine-member citizen's commission will also be briefed on a number of other issues, including the Department's youth sport fishing program, marine fish aquaculture, and Columbia River sturgeon management and spring chinook non-treaty harvest issues.
Under the lands grazing policy, domestic livestock grazing would be permitted on Department-owned or controlled lands if it is determined to be ecologically sound and consistent with site management objectives and WDFW's broader, fish and wildlife management objectives.
Specifically, the policy states that grazing must comply with the Department's Priority Habitats and Species Program (PHS). That program describes management and habitat guidelines necessary to protect certain species, groups of species and habitats.
Priority species include state listed species and those considered candidates for listing; animal aggregations considered vulnerable; and vulnerable species of recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. Priority habitats are those habitat types with unique or significant value to a diverse group of species.
The policy also states that Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) should be encouraged as the preferred process used by the Department to incorporate grazing permits into habitat management programs. CRM is a process whereby people with diverse interests in a land area or watershed work together to coordinate management activities.
The draft policy also requires all grazing permits to be reviewed by regional fish, wildlife and habitat personnel, and ultimately approved by the Director.
A complete copy of the proposed policy can be viewed on the Department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/grazing.htm. Copies can also be obtained by phoning Mark Quinn at (360)902-2402.