2023 Legislative Session: Budget Information

WDFW is currently monitoring budget requests for the 2023-25 biennium, as part of the statewide budget that the Washington State Legislature will adopt during its regular session in early 2023.

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 2023 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

2023-25 Operating funding emergent needs

A number of the Department's operating budget requests were fully funded in the Governor's proposed budget for the 2023-25 biennium, while others were not funded or only partially funded. Overall, the governor recommends an $88 million increase to WDFW's operating budget compared to the previous biennium.  

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.

  • This proposal was NOT FUNDED in the governor's budget. Given the importance of this work, WDFW will explore options with the Legislature regarding how they might approach funding this priority. 
  • View Fact Sheet

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.

  • This proposal was PARTIALLY FUNDED in the governor's budget, with $1.8 million proposed for this work.

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.

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.

  • This proposal was PARTIALLY FUNDED in the governor's budget, with $1.5 million proposed for this work.
  • View Fact Sheet

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.

  • This proposal was NOT FUNDED in the governor's budget.

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.

  • This proposal was NOT FUNDED in the governor's budget.

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.

  • This proposal was PARTIALLY FUNDED in the governor's budget, with $176,000 proposed for this work.

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.

  • This proposal was NOT FUNDED in the governor's budget.

Building a climate-resilient WDFW, $5.3M

WDFW recognizes 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.

  • This proposal was FULLY FUNDED in the governor's budget.

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.

  • This proposal was FULLY FUNDED in the governor's budget.

Body cameras and public records, $1.6M

Investments in body-worn camera technologies support contemporary policies in law enforcement transparency and accountability, and also 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.

  • This proposal was FULLY FUNDED in the governor’s budget for the 2023-25 biennium.
  • View Fact Sheet

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. 

  • This proposal was NOT FUNDED in the governor's budget.

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.

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.

This proposal was FULLY FUNDED in the governor's budget, 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.

  • This proposal was FULLY FUNDED in the governor's budget.

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.

  • This proposal was NOT FUNDED in the governor's budget.

Other items

In addition to the projects above, the governor's budget proposes $468,000 for clean energy permitting, $184,000 to update the statewide strategy for climate resilience, and one-time funding of $6 million for forest health.

The governor’s budget also proposes ongoing funding for a variety of projects that were previously funded by one-time authorizations. This includes continued 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, and assess riparian systems.

Other items were once again funded on a one-time basis, including 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 governor's budget proposed $190 million in funding, the largest increase in new bond appropriation WDFW has received.

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. Additionally, the request supports the implementation of an action plan needed for the recovery of Southern Resident Killer Whales, and to secure a healthy and sustained population for the future.

The Department previously brought several hatchery projects through the design and permitting phases, and the governor's proposed budget includes funding the following construction efforts at hatcheries around the state:

  • Wallace River Hatchery, Replace Intakes and Ponds, $17.2M
  • Toutle River Fish Collection Facilitation, Match, $17.3M
  • Beaver Creek Hatchery Renovation, $2.6M
  • SRKW – Sol Duc Hatchery Modifications, $1.1M
  • Soos Creek Hatchery Renovation, $2M
  • Spokane Hatchery Renovation, $38M
  • Minter Hatchery Intakes, $1.4M
  • Naselle Hatchery Renovation, $18.5M
  • Ringold Hatchery Replace Ponds, $697K
  • Kalama Falls Hatchery Replace Raceways and PA System, $10.7
  • SRKW – Palmer Ponds Expansion, $950K
  • Deschutes Watershed Center and Tumwater Falls History and Nature Center, $12M and $2M

In addition to facility improvements, the Department’s capital budget request also reflects our commitment to conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat. The governor's budget proposed funding of $41 million to relocate infrastructure near the Duckabush River estuary to restore habitat there to a more natural condition, improving spawning and rearing habitat for ESA-listed fish.

Other projects included in the governor's proposed budget include $1 million to continue improving floodplain at the Wooten Wildlife Area and $1.2 million to construct fencing to prevent damage by elk.

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 Department estimates recreational opportunities support tens of thousands of jobs in Washington State and generates more than $4.5 billion to the state’s economy.