2024 Legislative Session: Budget Information

WDFW is monitoring budget requests for the 2024 supplemental budget, as part of the statewide budget that the Washington State Legislature will adopt during session in early 2024.

These budget requests include funding for maintenance-level needs (for routine, unavoidable cost increases and other technical adjustments), and policy-level requests to address new initiatives or emerging issues.

Information about the Department's 2024 requests for legislation will be available on our legislative priorities webpage.

More information on current and past budget requests can be found at the Office of Financial Management's website

2024 Supplemental Operating funding emergent needs

Several of the Department's operating budget requests were fully funded in the governor’s proposed budget, while others were not funded or only partially funded.

Some of WDFW's key budget priorities for the 2024 legislative session include:

Safety Training and Program Expansion, $6.8 million

WDFW is looking to rapidly scale its Safety and Training Program to ensure staff are trained and prepared for their high-risk job tasks. In 2021-23, WDFW initiated a plan to incrementally grow the program over the next several years, investing $909,000 per fiscal year and $373,000 one-time to date. However, incremental growth is no longer an option. The Department is seeking $4.7 million in ongoing funds to add additional safety capacity in each region, expand the high-risk job task training program, and increase support to remote employees.

  • The Governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $3.9 million.

Forest Health and Fuel Reduction, $2 million

The enacted 2023-25 budget reduced forest health and fuel reduction funding from $6 million to $4 million and moved the funding from the capital budget to the Forest Resiliency Account. This reduction presents a threat to the sustainability and momentum of the Department’s forest health program. Restoring adequate funding is critical to WDFW’s implementation of forest health and resilience, as outlined in the “All Hands, All Lands” strategy. Funding reductions jeopardize the 20year treatment goals that keep communities safe, enhance biodiversity, maintain public working lands’ contributions to local economies, and improve public lands’ resilience to climate change. This $2 million request will help implement forest health treatments on more acres, cover increased fuel and infrastructure costs, cover the costs of more complex projects, and help ensure equipment safety.

  • The Governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Coastal Salmonids Management, $3.2 million

Salmon and steelhead have declined across most of their range, including the Olympic Peninsula, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and southwest Washington rivers. Given the cultural, economic, and ecological significance of salmon and steelhead populations, declines of these species and associated declines in angling opportunities have highlighted the need to design and fund recreational fisheries management strategies that balance angling opportunities with conservation objectives. Lack of vital information in planning and implementation of these fisheries is identified as a critical gap by numerous management partners. We propose filling this gap by adding to existing monitoring programs and expanding evaluation and management capacity. This information will inform fisheries and policy decisions focused on the conservation and management of these resources.

  • The Governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $2.1 million.

Critical Infrastructure Maintenance, $1.9 million

The Department owns and/or operates 80 hatcheries statewide, many of which are aging. Years of deferred critical infrastructure maintenance has created unsafe conditions for staff and the public and increases the risk of a catastrophic fish loss due to critical equipment failure. New funding will allow WDFW to begin working toward a more proactive approach to critical infrastructure maintenance, which focuses on preventative maintenance, resulting in WDFW better safeguarding our facilities and fish stocks.

  • The Governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $1.5 million.

Non-lethal Wolf Deterrence, $707,000

As Washington’s wolf population continues to grow, the potential for human-wolf interactions and conflicts will likely increase. WDFW needs the resources to address emerging human-wolf conflict in areas outside of the 4 northeast counties where conflict reduction funding has been primarily focused. Wolf-livestock conflict is expected to expand over a larger geographic area as wolf populations recover and spread throughout Washington. Historical data in the western states has shown approximately 15-20% of wolf packs may be involved in conflict. For these reasons, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW, the Department) requests that current wolf conflict reduction funding be increased to cover existing costs; be extended to the second fiscal year of the biennium; and be ongoing for outlying years.

  • The Governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.

Salmon ESA Regulatory Compliance, $2.1 million

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) have developed Biological Opinions (BIOPs) on current WDFW hatchery operations and have concluded that additional measures, known as terms and conditions, must be made to hatchery operations and infrastructure to minimize impacts to Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed species and critical habitat. Implementation of these terms and conditions also requires additional monitoring, evaluation, and research to determine if these measures are minimizing impacts to

species as intended. To continue operating at current levels, WDFW must adhere to these new terms and conditions, many of which include unfunded mandates. Thus, WDFW hatcheries are facing substantial cost increases to meet the new terms and conditions, and if funding is not obtained hatchery programs may be discontinued or significantly reduced to meet ESA requirements.

  • The Governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $1.9 million.

Fish Health and Marking, $2 million

State operated hatchery facilities need additional capacity for current and expanded production, including additional fish health services and mass marking of hatchery salmonids. This proposal will support those needs and if not funded hatchery production goals may not be met, the Fish Health Unit will not be staffed adequately to monitor state and commercial aquaculture, and fish intended for harvest will not be mass marked. This funding ensures ongoing measures to support recreational and commercial harvest, tribal harvest, Southern Resident killer whale prey, and conservation efforts for wild salmonids.

  • The Governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $403,000.

Secure Cloud-Based Data Migration, $4.1 million

The Department’s Information Technology (IT) infrastructure is currently housed in the state data center. The hardware is reaching the end of its life cycle, must be replaced in fiscal year (FY) 2025, and does not have the capacity to support WDFW’s growing business needs. Migrating WDFW’s IT infrastructure from the state data center to a cloud-based platform and building a data architecture team will provide a more scalable, cost-effective, and secure data solution. WDFW must take this opportunity to modernize its’ infrastructure to support the agency’s mission and develop science and policy more effectively.

  • The Governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.

Salmon Reporting Tool Replacement, $515,000

WDFW’s public-facing website and data system for salmon and steelhead status and trends information, the Salmon Conservation Reporting Engine (SCoRE), is antiquated and increasing the Department’s cybersecurity risk profile. WDFW needs to build a new salmon data application to meet state open-data strategies, provide accurate and transparent information on salmon management, serve as a dependable data source for our tribal co-managers, and keep pace with increasing reporting demands from the salmon recovery community, including the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office (GSRO).

  • The Governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.

Deer and Elk Ag Damage Compensation, $1.2 million

WDFW requests funding and staff for elk and deer commercial crop damage claims. Since 1996, RCW has limited claim payments at $150,000 per year, and claims over $10,000 require an administrative appeal, regardless of the Department’s consensus. In addition to these legal limitations, funding has not kept up with increases in crop damage values and claim volume, resulting in a backlog of appeals processing. Claims to be paid in biennium 2023-25 from biennium 2021-23 exceed current funding levels, and there is no capacity to pay new claims in biennium 2023-25. The Department requires legislative assistance to address the backlog by raising the appeal limit, increasing ongoing General Fund State appropriations to meet demand, and adding staffing resources to support timely claim processing.

  • The Governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $686,000.

Additional PRR Capacity, $827,000

WDFW has seen a significant increase in large, complex public record requests in recent years. The staff who handle public records requests (PRR) are increasingly challenged to respond in a timely and complete manner, which increases the Department’s legal and financial exposure.  

Additional staff and software tools to conduct electronic searches and review would significantly increase WDFW’s ability to meet deliverable deadlines with assurance of completeness, which in turn reduces potential litigation and financial exposure. The additional resources would also allow for improved training of agency staff and overall records management. 

  • The Governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.

Other items

In addition to the items above, the Governor’s budget proposes the following:

  • Biodiversity and Species Recovery – Funding was reduced by $625,000 one-time in year one.
  • Emergency Fire Suppression Recovery – Funding was reduced by $250,000.
  • Predatory Fish Suppression – Funding was increased by $700,000 to initiate a demonstration project to contribute to rebuilding of salmon runs in the Lake Washington basin through suppression of predatory fish species.
  • HPA APPS Replacement – An additional $1.1 million was provided for this project.

Items of interest included in other Department’s budgets:

  • Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was provided $524,000 to contract with WDFW for biological geoduck survey work.
  • DNR was also provided $857,000 to implement control measures on European green crabs.  The proviso instructs DNR to work with WDFW to coordinate these efforts.

2024 Capital funding emergent needs

The capital budget uses bond authority to fund long-lasting, one-time projects. Often, most bond authority is obligated in the biennial budget. So, WDFW is fortunate that all three projects the agency requested are fully funded in the governor’s proposal.

Ringold Hatchery Replace Ponds - $200,000

The Ringold Hatchery has several renovation projects to help minimize fish loss and ensure production goals are met for several species,

  • The Governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Statewide Hatcheries – Domestic Water Systems and Piping - $275,000

The supplemental ask would support the re-piping and updating of 6-9 residences at locations such as Aberdeen Hatchery, Mossyrock Hatchery, and possibly other sites.

  • The Governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Sekiu Boat Ramp Acquisition - $2,703,000

With this request, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) proposes to purchase approximately 2.5 acres of uplands, tidelands, and an easement for ingress/egress, including a four-lane boat ramp and two parking lots, from a private fishing resort in Sekiu, Clallam County. This property purchase will provide the only public boat ramp for saltwater fishing and recreational boating access to the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Port Angeles and Neah Bay.

  • The Governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

2023-25 Operating funding emergent needs

A number of the Department's operating budget requests were fully funded in the Governor, House, and Senate's proposed budgest for the 2023-25 biennium, while others were not funded or only partially funded.

Some of WDFW's key budget priorities for the 2023 legislative session include:

Restoring Washington’s biodiversity, $47.6M

WDFW continues to lack the resources necessary to track status of fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need and implement protection and recovery actions for these species.  Meanwhile, human stressors and climate change are accelerating losses of biodiversity, the foundation of our natural resources-based economy and human health.  This package includes funding for habitat protection and restoration, population recovery of species of greater conservation need, and increases the Department’s capacity for fish and wildlife conservation education.

  • The governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.
  • The legislative proposal (conference version) PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $23 million.
    • The legislative proposal also provides $1 million to evaluate the abundance of sturgeon, as well as monitor the distribution of eulachon.

Critical infrastructure maintenance, $3.5M

WDFW is among the largest owners of lands, buildings, and infrastructure in the state. This funding will establish a base standard for maintenance of that infrastructure, as well as provide additional information and early detection for the preventative and emergent maintenance work that already occurs.

  • The governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $1.8 million.
  • The legislative proposal does NOT FUND this request.

WDFW fish passage maintenance team, $1.5M

Much of the current fish passage infrastructure is in unknown condition or in need of maintenance. Staff are needed to evaluate and monitor fish passage facilities and maintain them, as well as improving screening and passage infrastructure at WDFW hatcheries. Recent instances of unexpected fish kills have occurred due to lack of maintenance at WDFW-owned facilities. This funding will help maintain an inventory of fishways and fish ladders in the state and inspect, maintain, or replace them as needed.

  • The governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.
  • The legislative proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Expand wildlife conflict response, $9.9M

Both WDFW Police and our wildlife conflict specialists are often called upon to address wildlife conflict situationsThe Department is moving towards an expansion of the idea embodied in the idea of "Living with Wildlife." This transformation will expand education and outreach throughout the state and shift some wildlife conflict work from the Enforcement Program to Wildlife Program. As the state's human population continues to grow, it is imperative that WDFW has capacity to educate, support and help the citizenry live with wildlife in a way that supports healthy populations of wildlife and safe human populations.

  • The governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $1.5 million.
  • The legislative proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $700,000.

Wildlife disease surveillance, $644K

This funding package enables WDFW to more proactively address diseases that impact wildlife, some of which have a nexus to human health. These include avian influenza (“bird flu”), SARS-CoV-2 -- the virus that causes COVID in humans and that has recently been documented in wild deer -- and the fungi that cause white-nose syndrome and chytrid disease, responsible for the near-extinction of several bat and amphibian populations throughout the country. This funding will improve WDFW’s ability to address ongoing concerns, as well as better identify pathogens of concern.

  • The governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.
  • The legislative proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Columbia River ESA permitting, $1.4M

This request will fund four agency staff (fishery biologists and a research scientist) needed for completion and application of an updated fishery analysis framework to a suite of Columbia River Fishery Management and Evaluation Plans needed to update/gain full ESA coverage for all Columbia River tributary recreational fisheries.  This is expected to expand harvest opportunity in many key tributaries, especially during years of high abundance.  Post consultation, this staff will lead implementation of expected terms and conditions from ESA permits associated with fishery monitoring.

  • The governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.
  • The legislative proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Hatchery investment strategy, $5M

This essential funding request will support increasing operational needs at facilities for current production. This request will ensure that WDFW has the necessary funding to support staffing, broodstock collection, marking, fish health and monitoring, facility maintenance and equipment needs to keep up with current production levels. The largest portion of this request is for the purchase and staffing of two auto-trailers for mass marking of hatchery fish.

  • The governor’s proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $176,000.
  • The legislative proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $176,000.

Engaging volunteers in conservation, $2.3M

This request would fund six regional volunteer coordinators to increase and expand volunteerism and other public engagement opportunities statewide, and one FTE devoted to coordinating community science initiatives. With this funding, WDFW expects to see at least a 50% increase in volunteer hours, from 60,000 to 90,000 hours, along with numerous specific volunteer programs and opportunities.

  • The governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.
  • The legislative proposal does NOT FUND this request.

Building a climate-resilient WDFW, $5.3M

WDFW recognizes it is already experiencing climate-related impacts to the agency’s work that will grow as the pace of climate change accelerates over the coming decades. As a next step towards building climate resilience, this funding package increases capacity to continue to fulfill key aspects of our mission vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including guiding recovery efforts for at-risk fish and wildlife species, providing harvest and recreation opportunities, providing technical assistance, permitting, and planning support to a broad array of stakeholders, and managing agency-owned lands and supporting infrastructure.

  • The governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.
  • The legislative proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $4.4 million.

Building a carbon-neutral WDFW, $1.8M

WDFW is taking steps to lead by example by adopting a Sustainability Plan and setting voluntary goals above and beyond RCW 70A.45.050, which provides guidance on greenhouse gas emissions for state agencies. This package would catalyze transition of the Department’s fleet to electric vehicles and alternative fuels, advance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, create a Commute Trip Reduction program, and support foundational research on carbon sequestration, hatchery nitrous oxide emissions, and waste and toxics reduction.

  • The governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.
  • The legislative proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Body cameras and public records, $1.6M

Investments in body-worn camera technologies support contemporary policies in law enforcement transparency and accountability and improve officer safety. Body-worn cameras are especially needed for WDFW police officers who typically work in solitary patrol situations in remote areas with little chance for timely back up. This funding package also addresses the significant public records management and storage requirements that accompany the use of body cameras.

  • The governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.
  • The legislative proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $915,000.

Emerging fishery implementation, $3.1M

With an Emerging Commercial Fishery, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife could assess the viability of alternative gears in a commercial setting. This request will fund commercial alternative gear research to inform fishery implementation questions, monitoring for the emerging commercial fishery, and create a source of funds for the purchase and optimization of gear. 

  • The governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.
  • The legislative proposal does NOT FUND this request.

Manage impacts to state lands, $1.3M

To make informed visitor management decisions that meet conservation goals on state lands, WDFW needs to collect, manage, and analyze data on how human activities, including outdoor recreation, impact fish and wildlife habitat. The Department will coordinate with Parks, DNR and tribes to refine and expand Ecological Integrity Assessments to measure and monitor the health of state lands where human impacts are of greatest concern.

  • The governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.
  • The legislative proposal PARTIALLY FUNDS this request at $566,000.

Emerging toxics in Chinook and orca, $2.4M

Toxic chemicals continue to be a concern for the health of Southern Resident killer whales, Chinook salmon, forage fish, and other species in Puget Sound. This investment would enable WDFW to better track Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the orca and salmon food web. This important research will accelerate recovery and protection of endangered orcas and threatened Chinook salmon by identifying the location and sources of CEC exposure, which is critical to reducing toxic chemicals in Puget Sound.

  • The governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request, along with an additional $2.4 million in funding to track phthalates.
  • The legislative proposal FULLY FUNDS this request, along with an additional $2.4 million in funding to track phthalates.

HPA permitting systems replacement, $7.3M

In 2014, WDFW deployed the online Aquatic Protection Permitting System (APPS) to manage Hydraulic Project Approvals (HPAs). The software platform, built and maintained by a vendor, shows signs of non-functionality. The outdated system prevents HPA business process improvements, and recent systemic maintenance problems jeopardize the issuance of permits within the statutory 45-day timeline. If not replaced soon, there is a risk of complete collapse of the statewide system used by permit applicants, agency staff, and other interested parties.

  • The governor’s proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.
  • The legislative proposal FULLY FUNDS this request.

Legacy systems replacement, $1.4M

WDFW is working to replacement a number of outdated legacy information technology systems, which are difficult and costly to maintain, vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks, and put the Department at risk of service disruption. Replacing obsolete systems will improve the quality and efficiency of applications, enhance cybersecurity, reduce risk, and will allow the Department to respond to evolving business needs while modernizing how WDFW conducts business.

  • The governor’s proposal does NOT FUND this request.
  • The legislative proposal does NOT FUND this request.

Other items

In addition to the projects above, the legislative budget proposes $125,000 for a nature play toolkit, $470,000 for net ecological gain framework, $165,000 for shellfish sanitary control, $327,000 for plastic pollution, $500,000 for experimental fishing gear grants, and $500,000 for regional fisheries enhancement groups (RFEGs).

Other items were once again funded on a one-time basis, including funding to further reduce sea lion predation on the Columbia River, survey marine mammals in the Salish Sea, monitor salmon and steelhead, conduct fish passage rule making, prioritize fish barriers, assess riparian systems, facilitation of the Wolf Advisory Group, addressing humpback entanglements in the coastal crab fishery, and work at the Toutle and Skamania hatcheries in Southwest Washington. Wolf recovery work was also funded as ongoing, except for hiring range riders, which was provided as one-time funding.

2023-25 Capital funding emergent needs

Capital projects

WDFW requested $209.1 million in capital budget funding for the 2023-25 biennium, focused on conserving healthy fish and wildlife populations, sustainable outdoor experiences, supporting a strong economy and social values, and pursuing operational excellence within the Department. The Department’s request reflects a strong desire to reduce risks to native salmon and steelhead through projects to reduce the impacts hatcheries have on native fish. In addition to facility improvements, the Department’s capital budget request also reflects our commitment to conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat.

The following projects were fully funded in the legislative proposal:

  • Wallace River Hatchery – Replace Intakes and Ponds, $17.2 million
  • Beaver Creek Hatchery Renovation, $2.7 million
  • Soos Creek Hatchery Renovation, $2.1 million
  • Minter Hatchery Intakes, $1.4 million
  • Cooperative Elk Damage Fencing, $1.4 million
  • SRKW – Sol Duc Hatchery Modifications, $1.2 million

The following proposals received partial funding in the legislative proposal or were phased to allow ongoing work to continue:

  • Spokane Hatchery Renovation, $16.8 million
  • Naselle Hatchery Renovation, $11.5 million
  • SRKW Palmer Ponds Expansion, $950,000
  • Fish & Wildlife Health and Biosecurity Facility, $884,000
  • Toutle River Fish Collection Facility Upgrade (with USACE), $300,000
  • Samish Hatchery - Friday Creek Intake & Fish Passage, $150,000

Duckabush Estuary Restoration - This project is mostly funded in the legislative proposal:

  • Of the $41 million requested, $14 million was provided. The Department will request the remainder next biennium. Additionally, $25 million was provided in the Recreation and Conservation Office’s (RCO) budget.

The following was included in RCO’s capital budget:

  • Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board, $48.4 million
  • Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, $15.8 million
  • Washington Wildlife and Restoration Program (WWRP), $120 million

Renovating hatcheries and improving recreational access and wildlife areas increases recreational opportunities for the public. This in turn provides a greater economic benefit for local economies in Washington. The