The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved capital and operating budget proposals for 2021-23 biennium, which the Department submitted to the Office of Financial Management in September of 2020.
The operating budget includes a State Fiscal Year 2021 second supplemental request of $1.6 million for emerging needs and a reduction of $3.7 million of savings, a $11.2 million 2021-23 maintenance level funding request (for routine, unavoidable cost increases and other technical adjustments), and 2021-23 "performance level" requests, including $17 million for emerging issues and $8.1 million to backfill funding shortfalls.
While Washington State revenue forecasts continue to indicate a shifting deficit, the Governor’s initial budget proposal, released mid-December, largely recognized the need to continue fish and wildlife investments during these times of increased public pressure and enjoyment of the outdoors. For these reasons, the State revenue forecast anticipated in March 2021 remains critical to informing the legislature’s development of their final 2021-23 biennial budget.
Find more information on WDFW's capital and operating funding requests, as well as background on WDFW's past budget history, below.
In addition, find the Department's 2021 Legislative Session bill information here.
Funding for emerging issues in 2021-2023
Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) Assistance for Landowners, $2.5 million: Despite ongoing recovery efforts, salmon and steelhead populations continue to decline. The Hydraulic Code (RCW 77.55) requires the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to apply conditions to avoid, minimize, or compensate actions that may harm fish. This request creates a statewide program of expert assistance biologists to help landowners resolve risks and ensure construction projects are complying with Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit requirements. Meeting with landowners before and during construction to provide technical assistance and ensure compliance will lead to greater fish protection and stronger fish populations. To learn more, read our blog post "Helping property owners protect fish".
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $1.2 million of ongoing funding for this work.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), $2.8 million: WDFW’s AIS Unit does not have the base financial resources to effectively prevent or manage AIS and implement the findings and broad authorities provided by the state Legislature under Chapter 77.135 RCW. Aquatic Invasive Species are a grave threat to Washington as they constitute a public nuisance and disproportionately impact small businesses, tribal cultural resources, endangered species, and low-income communities. Consequences of not funding an effective base AIS management program include environmental impacts to endangered species recovery and native species diversity, and Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. There are also economic impacts to recreational and commercial fisheries, hydropower and irrigation industries, and the shipping industry. Without an effective prevention, early detection and rapid response capacity, this could cost our state hundreds of millions of dollars a year and significant losses in public aquatic, fish and wildlife resource use. To learn more, read our blog post "Funding needed to keep aquatic invasive species out of Washington's waters."
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $6 million for this work, including an additional $3.2 million requested during session for pass-through to SeaGrant, tribes, and Northwest Straits for European Green Crab management, as well as additional funding for ballast water monitoring, westside AIS check station staffing, and aquarium emphasis patrols.
North of Falcon Habitat Commitments, $4.3 million: Wild salmon populations will continue to decline without increased habitat protections and restoration efforts. As a co-manager in a unique government-to-government relationship with treaty tribes managing Washington’s salmon and steelhead fisheries, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) must do more to fulfill treaty rights and protect and recover these iconic species. This request focuses on three main components; to establish a current environmental baseline to better measure salmon recovery in key watersheds, implement more precise monitoring of freshwater productivity over time, and to improve fish protection and fish passage compliance.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget does not include funding for this request.
Marine Mammal Management, $2.7 million: With Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) and numerous salmon and steelhead runs listed as threatened or endangered statewide, Washington is in need of a comprehensive approach to marine mammal management -- one that includes active pinniped management and research, investigations identifying potential seal and sea lion impacts on salmon, and assessing the effectiveness of SRKW viewing regulations. This package would provide funding required to effectively engage and move toward successful long-term, balanced management ranging from the Salish Sea and coastal waters to the large rivers and estuaries of the state.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget recognizes the importance of this work by providing general fund support at requested levels. The final budget also includes additional funds for a Southern Resident Killer Whale bill that passed in 2019, and pass-through to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for a report on pinniped predation on salmon in the Salish Sea and outer coast. The Puget Sound and Columbia River pinniped activities are funded one-time in the final budget.
Fisheries Monitoring, $2.5 million: This package includes support for coastal and Puget Sound monitoring efforts, which include a feasibility study to reduce the risk of whale entanglements, steelhead spawning surveys and freshwater oversight, as well as work tracking zooplankton, which was first funded as a Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force recommendation and provides critical insight into the health of Puget Sound.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget funds this important work at the requested level using fishing and hunting license revenue.
Evergreen Jobs, $700K: The Evergreen Jobs program will create jobs, enhance environmental education, support conservation partners and industries, and improve the management and outdoor experience on department-managed lands by restoring and enhancing native fish and wildlife habitats across Washington. Evergreen Jobs is a capital grant program comprised of two sub-programs: Public Wildlands and Community Habitat Washington. Public Wildlands will strategically develop department-managed lands for recreational and educational purposes based on conservation needs. Community Habitat Washington features three focus areas to achieve these goals: Habitat at Home, Nature in the City, and Evergreen Schoolyards.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget does not include funding for this request.
Columbia River license reduction, $1.1 million: In recent years, the lower Columbia commercial salmon fishery has experienced very brief fishing time in the mainstem Columbia River; only four days in 2018 and 16 days in 2019, a dramatic decline from an average of 38 days per year in 2010-2014. This request proposes development of a program to buy back commercial licenses, reducing the fleet to a size that better aligns with current and projected resource conditions and improves the resiliency and long-term viability of the fishery. With the goal of limiting impacts to infrastructure, supply chains and local communities, this proposal is to purchase approximately 100 gillnet licenses in the 2021-23 biennium and create a path for license holders to exit or transition out of this fishery. To learn more, read our blog post: "Sustainable fisheries, sustainable economies."
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $2 million for a voluntary reverse-auction license buyback of active licenses, with a number of caveats and limitations, as well as language that directs allocation ESA take of non-treaty fisheries in the lower Columbia River.
Wildlife Rehabilitation, $300K: The public highly values wildlife rehabilitation, so much so that there aren’t enough wildlife rehabilitators to help all the animals in need. While Washington’s program is nationally respected, we do not have enough wildlife rehabilitation capacity to address the public’s desire to help wildlife or provide for wildlife needs. This proposal requests additional expenditure authority to access funding that has accumulated over time in a dedicated account. Additional expenditure authority will allow the Department to address the needs of current rehabilitators, as well as recruitment and training for interested candidates, ensuring wildlife rehabilitation services are available and stable statewide. To learn more, read our blog posts, "Washington's wildlife rehabilitators keep Washington wild;" "Veterinarians play critical role in wildlife rehabilitation;" and "Four ways to help wildlife after wildfires."
- April 2021 Update: The final budget recognizes this recommendation for increased expenditure authority and are authorizing it on a onetime basis.
Backfill for anticipated funding shortfalls in 2021-2023
The Department has several shortfalls in various accounts that are independent of the economic impacts of the coronavirus. For these requests, the Department is requesting that the legislature back-fill these shortfalls with $8.1 Million of State General Funding so there is no loss of service.
Remedy Personalized License Plate Shortfall, $1 million: Washington has more than 260 species of greatest conservation need (SGCN), many of which are listed as threatened or endangered. The current budget for conservation of Washington’s SGCN is vastly insufficient to meet conservation and recovery goals. Decreased revenue from personalized license plate sales is eroding a key funding source for the agency’s work to conserve this biodiversity. Continuing this important work is crucial to keeping common species common and preventing future federal Endangered Species Act listings. To learn more about personalized license plates, background plates and how funds from these are used, visit our blog.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides funding for this work, but through hunting and fishing license dollars rather than the preferred General Fund-State for this nongame conservation work.
Remedy Dingell-Johnson Hatchery Shortfall, $900K: The Dingell-Johnson Act collects excise tax on sports fishing and boating equipment and directs funds toward state fishing and boating recreation programs. The Department anticipates shortfall in revenue from this federal excise tax in the 21-23 biennium, which puts fisheries management activities at risk and impacts anglers’ fishing opportunities. The Department is requesting state general fund resources to backfill this revenue shortfall to prevent the closure of Omak Hatchery and Cowlitz/Mayfield net pens operations. Without this funding, the department will have to reduce hatchery trout and chinook production, which would negatively impact Southern Resident killer whales as Chinook salmon are a critical part of their diet. Production decreases would also be inconsistent with the Pacific Salmon Treaty, co-manager agreements, and the Governor’s Executive Order on Southern Resident killer whale recovery. Additionally, reductions in future fishery opportunities associated with reduced fishery management will result from lack of required biological data collection capabilities. For more information visit our Dingell-Johnson Act web page.
- April 2021 Update: Based on the updated Dingell-Johnson apportionment from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which were higher than anticipated and covers this shortfall, WDFW has notified legislators that this request is no longer needed.
Remedy Pittman-Robertson Funding Shortfall, $2.7 million: Since 1939, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has received federal funding (Pittman-Robertson Funds, also known as the Wildlife Restoration Program) to conserve, protect, and enhance wildlife, their habitats, and the hunting opportunities they provide. However, this long-standing revenue has decreased by 24% over the past two years. If the shortfall is not addressed, the ability of the Department to survey and study game populations, address wildlife conflict concerns, set hunting seasons, monitor hunter opportunities, survey and study game populations, and provide private lands access, and address wildlife conflict concerns will be severely impacted.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides funding for this work, but onetime through flexible hunting and fishing license dollars rather than the preferred General Fund-State.
Hatchery Grants Shortfall, $3.5 million: The Department is anticipating a shortfall in operational funds for several hatcheries currently funded by the federal government and local sources, putting conservation and future fishery opportunities at risk. Federal Mitchell Act dollars are currently allocated to operate seven hatcheries that release over 17 million salmon and steelhead into lower Columbia River tributaries. A shortfall of $1.9 million will result in production falling by 1.5 million salmon and steelhead and the closure of Toutle and Skamania hatcheries. Additionally, funding from the National Park Foundation, which supports production at the Elwha hatchery, expires at the end of September 2021, leaving a shortfall of $1.5 million, which will result in the closure of the Elwha hatchery and end salmon production and conservation efforts that support Elwha River Chinook recovery. The Elwha hatchery rears and releases 2.7 million Chinook each year that contribute to stock recovery goals, currently listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act, as well as provide prey for endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. To learn more, read our blog post: "Keeping salmon and steelhead hatcheries open."
- April 2021 Update: The final budget funds the Toutle and Skamania River Hatcheries onetime with flexible hunting and fishing license dollars, and Elwha Hatchery with ongoing General Fund-State.
2021-2023 Operating budget provisos
The legislature includes something called “provisos” in the budget bills they introduce. The term “proviso” is shorthand for wording in the text of the budget bill that specifies when a funding amount must be used for a specific purpose by stating “provided solely for…” The following are several provisos in the Department’s budget.
Shrubsteppe and wildfire recovery ($2.35 million General Fund, $1.5 million Capital Fund)
At the request of bi-partisan group of legislators, WDFW is supporting a proviso designed to foster more resilient landscapes for wildlife and people. In 2020, some 800,000 acres of landscape burned in devastating wildfires.
The pygmy rabbit, a nearly extinct species in our state that the agency has worked to save for more than a decade, may have seen its Washington population halved by fires. Wildlife managers also estimate a population decline of anywhere from 30% to 70% in sage grouse because of fires, bringing the statewide population to dangerously low levels.
The proviso supports wildlife habitat and private landowners affected by the fires, and guides stakeholders to identify longer-term shrubsteppe and rangeland conservation needs, including wildfire prevention, recovery, and restoration actions to sustain habitat and working lands.
The proviso is fully funded in the final budget.
Increased Law Enforcement ($1.4 million)
The final budget provides funding in SFY23 to increase law enforcement staffing. This funding bow waves to $2.8 million for the 2023-25 biennium and is provided ongoing. The Department intends to utilize a portion of the funding to hire enforcement officers in the Olympic Peninsula detachments.
New Zealand-Style Elk Fencing ($600K)
The final budget includes a proviso which would appropriate funds to the Department to pilot and test New Zealand-Style elk fencing to reduce elk crop and property damage in the Skagit Valley.
Cougar Management ($100K)
The final budget includes two provisos related to cougar management. The first would require the Department to submit a report on cougar removals by local law enforcement agencies. The second proviso would provide $100K to the Department to support local jurisdictions that have a signed agreement with the Department establishing criteria for public safety cougar removals.
Coastal Steelhead Monitoring ($300K)
The final budget includes proviso language directing the Department to develop a plan for coastal steelhead river systems.
Wolf management ($954K)
The final budget provides $954K ongoing for conflict mitigation strategies for wolf recovery in northeast Washington to respond to wolf-livestock conflicts. The proviso also discourages the use of firearms from helicopters to remove wolves.
An additional proviso includes $260K of one-time funding for a third-party facilitator to support the Wolf Advisory Group.
Columbia River License Reduction ($2 million)
The final budget provides $2 million for a voluntary reverse-auction license buyback of active Columbia River gill net licenses, with several caveats and limitations, as well as language that would change the allocation of recreational and commercial take on the Columbia River.
Increase Tribal and PUD Hatchery Production ($5.6 million)
The final budget provides funding to maintain salmon production at tribal and PUD facilities to benefit Southern Resident Killer Whales, including $1 million for Department hatchery maintenance.
Chronic Wasting Disease ($465K)
Chronic Wasting Disease is an imminent threat to the state’s deer and elk populations with detections of CWD just 70 miles away in western Montana. The final budget provides $465K ongoing for the Department to convene a CWD advisory group and establish surveillance and monitoring efforts.
PCB Research and Monitoring ($630K)
The final budget provides $630K ongoing funding General Fund – State from the settlement with Monsanto to research and monitor impacts of PCBs on indicator species in coordination with the Department of Ecology.
Northern Pike Eradication and Monitoring ($502K)
The final budget provides funding for suppression, eradication, and monitoring of northern pike in the Columbia River. The Department must work with tribes to identify appropriate actions to reduce threats to anadromous salmon from invasive northern pike.
Cowlitz River Hook Mortality Survey ($90K)
The final budget provides onetime funding for the Department to complete the final phase of the Cowlitz river salmon and steelhead hook mortality study, with $60K of it provided for the original contractor of the study to complete their work. The Department shall provide a final report to the legislature by December 31, 2022.
Pinto Abalone Recovery ($400K)
The final budget provides onetime funding to recover Pinto Abalone; $85K of which is to be used each year to locate, monitor, and safeguard wild populations. Remaining funds to be granted to the Puget Sound restoration fund to increase production, diversity, and resilience of out-planted abalone.
Forest Practices Adaptive Management ($250K)
The final budget provides onetime funding for the Department to conduct an evaluation of the forest practices adaptive management program.
Safe Harbor Agreement ($182K)
The final budget provides onetime funding for fiscal year 2022 to the Department as pass-through from DNR to assist in the development of a programmatic safe harbor agreement for northern spotted owls. DNR will submit a report to the legislature by December 2021 on the status of the rule making and the resources needed to implement the rule October 2022.
GMA Climate Change ($660K)
The Department anticipates this funding as part of Department of Commerce’s $3.3 million proviso to work with Ecology and Commerce to create a climate change and resiliency model to inform comprehensive plans. The model must recognize and promote co-benefits of climate resilience, such as salmon recovery, ecosystem services, and supporting treaty rights.
2021-2023 Reductions to balance the state budget
April 2021 Update: The final budget does not include furloughs or any reductions to WDFW staffing levels. The final budget restores the general wage increase for certain exempt staff.
The economic impacts of COVID-19 hit the nation and state hard. The Department has adjusted to resulting revenue impacts by enacting staff furlough days, delaying some cost-of-living salary increases for staff, and implementing $2 million in one-time cost savings to reduce current expenses.
In summer of 2020, the Governor’s Office also directed cabinet agencies and requested non-cabinet agencies (like WDFW) to submit a 15% reduction in ongoing State General Fund appropriations. At the time, the Fish and Wildlife Commission recognized the negative impact that $23.5 million in funding cuts would have on local economies, and how investing in WDFW’s activities often ultimately generates additional revenue to the State General Fund. (Read their unanimously adopted position statement here). Fortunately, none of these reductions were taken in the final budget for 2021.
2021-2023 Capital budget funding request
The Department requested a comprehensive list of projects for the 2021-23 capital budget, including significant new investments. Projects spanned the Department’s portfolio of work from forest health work to hatchery improvements to recreation site improvements to cooperative fencing projects.
The final budget includes an appropriation of $71.6 million in new capital funding in support of the Department. Although this means that some projects were not funded or were only partially funded, this proposed budget funds several of the Department’s priorities and will be more than the current 2019-21 capital budget of $42.3 million. Additionally, the final budget includes $11.9 million for 24 minor works projects. Reappropriations were funded at $51.2 million, which matches the agency’s request.
More information about funding for Department projects in the final budget is outlined below.
Protecting the state's investment in hatcheries and lands
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is responsible for managing 82 state fish hatcheries, 691 water access sites and 1 million acres of public land designated for wildlife habitat and public recreation. These and other properties represent a major long-term investment in sustainable fisheries, wildlife conservation, and the quality of life for all Washingtonians.
The $233 million capital budget proposed by the department for the 2021-23 biennium is designed to protect that investment and meet the needs of the state’s growing human population. This request is driven by several factors:
- Repair and restoration backlog: Over the years, we have developed a $1 billion backlog of unfunded projects. Three-quarters of this request is needed for urgent upgrades to aging fish hatcheries. Other needs range from building repairs to fire prevention. This request would reduce the backlog by $159 million.
- Design and construction: The request includes $11.1 million for project design activities and $122.8 million for construction.
- Work in place: We recognize the importance of putting capital funding to work efficiently and effectively to complete projects of value to the people of Washington. Using a performance measure called “Work in Place,” we have increased our ability to complete high-value projects by 163% since the 2011-13 biennium.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget funds ten hatchery projects at the requested amount and provides $51.8 million for hatchery design and construction.
Since 1939, state leaders have sought to preserve habitat for fish and wildlife by creating and maintaining a statewide network of undeveloped lands under public ownership. Today, WDFW manages 33 designated wildlife areas that support fish, wildlife, and a wide range of recreational opportunities. More than a million people visit these areas each year to camp, hike, fish, hunt, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Our capital budget request includes $31 million to maintain or replace buildings, roads, boat ramps, irrigation systems, and other facilities necessary to meet the requirements of managing state wildlife areas.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $18.6 million to fund wildlife area projects.
Duckabush Estuary Habitat Restoration Project
WDFW is requesting $59.5 million in state capital funds to secure millions more in federal habitat restoration dollars for the benefit of endangered salmon and other fish and wildlife. The Duckabush project would reconnect the river to its floodplain and wetlands by modifying local roads, removing highway fill across the estuary, and elevating Highway 101 onto an estuary-spanning bridge. WDFW, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State Department of Transportation, and local and other groups have invested millions of dollars in Duckabush design efforts. Once funded, this project, located in the WDFW-managed Duckabush Unit of the North Olympic Wildlife Area in Jefferson County, would create hundreds of living-wage jobs, replace aging infrastructure, reduce seasonal flooding, and restore important estuary habitat. The Governor’s proposed 2021-23 budget does not include funding for this request; however, the legislature may still consider this request during the 2021 legislative session.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget does not provide funding for the Duckabush Estuary Habitat Restoration Project. The Department will request these funds in the 2022 Supplemental budget or through a federal infrastructure package.
Forest health and hazard fuel reduction (Eastern Washington)
The department manages one million acres of forest land, primarily on the east slope of the Cascade Range, and in northeast Washington and in the Blue Mountains. All of these are at extreme risk of catastrophic forest fires due to fire-suppression practices over the past century. Insects and disease also afflict these forests.
- WDFW is requesting $6 million to thin 7,000+ acres (depending on market and weather conditions) per year of overstocked forests, conduct prescribed burns, and create fire breaks to help prevent the kind of devastating fires that have ravaged areas of Eastern Washington in recent years.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides full funding for this work through the newly created Forest Resiliency Account.
W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area renovation (Columbia and Garfield Counties)
This popular wildlife area features eight artificial lakes along a 17-mile stretch of the Tucannon River. Built in the 1950s to improve fishing opportunities, these lakes are now deteriorating and require constant maintenance. Their design also restricts the natural function of the floodplain, raising water temperatures in the Tucannon River and threatening salmon, steelhead, and trout runs listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. None of the dikes or levies meet state safety requirements and some diversion dams have failed, resulting in fishing closures.
- WDFW is requesting $6 million in the 2021-23 capital budget to address these issues and improve fishing opportunities in the wildlife area.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget does not provide funding for the Wooten Wildlife Area renovation.
Deer and elk fencing (Statewide)
WDFW is seeking $1.2 million to help protect agricultural crops and other private property form damage caused by deer and elk throughout the state. These funds will be used to support cost-sharing agreements with landowners to install fences and allow the replacement of deteriorating fencing on lands we manage in Yakima and Kittitas counties.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides full funding for cooperative deer and elk fencing statewide.
Snow Creek Water Access Area renovation (Clallam County)
Snow Creek is perhaps the agency’s most unique water access area. Due to its location, the site offers access to fisheries in the eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The facilities and infrastructure have deteriorated to the point of closure of the site due to public safety concerns.
- WDFW is requesting $900,000 in 2021-23 to design and permit for a complete renovation of facilities to include an elevated boat launch, moorage facilities, ADA accessibility, restroom, and camp sites.
- WDFW will request $7.1 million in future biennia to construct the new facilities.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides full funding to design and permit the renovation of the Snow Creek Water Access Area.
For more than a century, state fish hatcheries have produced salmon, steelhead, trout, and other gamefish for harvest, providing fishing opportunities and economic benefits throughout the state. Today, the department operates 82 hatcheries, including 45 state-funded facilities valued at $1.5 billion.
Unfortunately, neither maintenance nor capital funding has kept pace with the need for renovation, repair, or replacement of these aging facilities, resulting in costly emergency repairs, reduced fish production, safety risks, and concerns about meeting federal salmon-recovery requirements. We are requesting $107 million for hatchery projects in our 2021-23 capital funding proposal to address this situation.
Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) statewide recovery, design, and construction
Listed as an endangered species in 2005, SRKW populations have continued to decline in large part due to lack of available salmon in the Puget Sound and Columbia River. Increased salmon production at hatcheries is a priority to support recovery of SRKW.
- We initiated a master planning process to assess existing infrastructure, determine needs, and prioritize projects for the most efficient and cost effective improvements to meet production goals.
- Hatchery modification projects at three hatcheries identified early in the process are included in our budget request, as well as a feasibility study for a new hatchery on the Cowlitz River.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides full funding for pre-design of a new Cowlitz River Hatchery, design and construction at Kendall Creek Hatchery, modifications to Voights Creek Hatchery, and pre-design for modifications to Sol Duc Hatchery in order to increase hatchery production for SRKWs.
Wallace River Hatchery construction (Snohomish County)
Since 1907, the Wallace River Hatchery has been in continuous operation. Each year, the hatchery produces 1.5 million fall Chinook, 800,000 spring Chinook, 150,000 coho, and 2 million chum salmon. The two existing water intake structures do not comply with federal and state fish screening and fish passage regulations. The rearing channels are outdated and in failing condition, resulting in recent fish losses. Many of the vital infrastructure and facilities are old and need of renovation.
- Phase 1: We currently have $13.8 million for the design, permitting, and construction of Phase 1 components, including concrete raceways, sediment pond, and pollution abatement system.
- Phase 2: Funding in the amount of $13 million is requested in 2021-23 to start Phase 2 construction activities primarily focused on new water intake structures.
- Phase 3: A request for an additional $12.3 million will be submitted in 2023-25 for construction of the remaining infrastructure components, including adult holding ponds, storage facility, hatchery incubation, and additional rearing ponds.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $1.5 million for completing the design of the remaining phases.
Naselle Hatchery construction (Pacific County)
The Naselle Hatchery is in very poor condition. The water supply and drain lines have required several repairs during the past two biennia and are a high risk for failure. The asphalt ponds are crumbling and allow water and fish escapes from the rearing ponds. The existing intakes from the Naselle River system do not comply with federal and state guidelines to protect native fish populations. A three phase renovation project is proposed to allow for continued fish production during construction. The hatchery produces 2.5 million fall Chinook, 1.2 million coho, 200,000 late coho, 300,000 chum, and 75,000 steelhead.
- Phase 1: We currently have $8.1 million for the project design and permitting and Phase 1 construction to include pre-settling ponds, new water supply pipeline, and distribution system.
- Phase 2: We are requesting $20 million in 2021-23 for construction of the phase 2 components including Naselle River intake, adult handling ponds, juvenile rearing ponds, electrical upgrades and backup generator, and pollution abatement pond. (The Governor’s proposed 2021-23 capital budget would provide partial funding, $15 million, for this work.)
- Phase 3: An additional $9.8 million in funding will be requested in 2023-25 for the third and final phase of construction.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $15 million to partially fund phase 2 construction.
Toutle River Fish Collection Facility Upgrade (Cowlitz County)
With the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) constructed a sediment control dam to manage sediments in the North Fork Toutle River. The dam limits fish passage for endangered coho and steelhead to native spawning habitat. As mitigation, the ACOE built a Fish Collection Facility (FCF) to collect and transport adult fish to release sites upstream of the dam. The ACOE are planning to raise the height of the dam, as well as renovate the existing FCF. The State and the ACOE have negotiated an agreement for the project resulting in an overall 83% ACOE and 17% State cost share.
- We currently have $6.8 million for the project design cost share, residence replacement, and real estate easement and acquisition.
- We have requested $14.2 million in 2021-23 for land purchase to enhance fish and elk habitat, generate forest growth, and promote outdoor recreation for the public.
- An additional $4.3 million will be requested in 2023-25 for construction cost share of the FCF.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $239,000 for this project and includes proviso language limiting the Department’s ability to acquire mitigation lands with the funds provided.
Hurd Creek Hatchery construction (Clallam County)
Recent movement of the Dungeness River channel has put the Hurd Creek Hatchery at high risk for catastrophic facility damage and loss of salmon. The hatchery is a critical rearing facility integrated into the Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan and is utilized for incubation and early rearing of Dungeness River Chinook and Elwha River Chinook. The hatchery supplements native stocks of fish back into the river of origin to rebuild natural spawning populations.
We have requested $11.9 million to relocate the hatchery facilities to higher ground away from the encroaching Dungeness River. The project will decrease the chance of flood damage, eliminates the risk of fish escapement, decreases egg mortality and reduces workplace hazards for staff.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides full funding for this project.
Eells Springs Hatchery renovation (Mason County)
Completed shortly after World War II, the Eells Springs Hatchery is a productive but aging facility. Annual production includes 600,000 rainbow trout, 84,000 cutthroat trout, and 250,000 kokanee salmon. We are seeking $12.7 million to renovate the facility and expand its capacity to produce trout for release into lowland lakes.
This project is proceeding in conjunction with plans to repurpose the Puyallup Hatchery for salmon production. Using funding provided in previous biennia, we completed the design and replaced aging pipes to prepare for expanded trout production at the Eells Springs facility.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget does not provide funding for the Eells Springs Hatchery renovation.
Deschutes Watershed Center construction (Thurston County)
Constructing a new hatchery will improve native fish and hatchery fish survival and replace closed salmon production from several locations within the Deschutes River Basin. The department has requested $2.2 million in design and permit funding to build a new salmon hatchery in the Deschutes River Basin. The project also includes a pollution abatement system designed to bring discharge water into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. The Governor’s proposed 2021-23 budget does not include funding for this request, however, the legislature may still consider this request during the 2021 legislative session.
We further anticipate asking for an additional $34 million in 2023-25 for construction of the new hatchery. Once completed, the hatchery is expected to produce 3.8 million Chinook salmon smolts per year, benefitting salmon fisheries from south Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget does not provide new funding for the Deschutes Watershed Center.
Minor works projects
Our capital budget request includes funding for 56 smaller projects designed to reduce the current backlog of repair and restoration work on department-managed lands and facilities. Each of these minor works projects is valued at less than $1 million and can be competed in a single biennium. The estimate cost of our proposed minor works project list for 2021-23 is $24.6 million. These projects address a variety of infrastructure requirements, such as roof replacement, boat launch repairs, road repairs, dam and bridge repairs, hatchery repairs, fish passage corrections, and improving prey abundance for Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery.
- April 2021 Update: The final budget provides $11.9 million for minor works projects.
Why fund fish and wildlife resources?
- 268 Washington species are in need of conservation.
- 1 million people will choose Washington as their home in the next decade, adding development and recreation pressure on scarce resources.
- 24,300 times per year our officers respond to calls for service, from wild animal conflicts to illegal poaching.
- 1 million acres of public WDFW land supports habitat, clean water, and recreation.
- $3.5 billion in annual expenditures are driven by Washington hunters and wildlife watchers.1
- $1.8 billion in annual economic benefit comes from sustainable Washington fisheries.1, 2
In a state valued for its outdoors, less than 1% of the general fund goes to support all of the state's natural resource agencies combined - that includes the Department of Natural Resources, State Parks, the Recreation and Conservation Office, Conservation Commission, Department of Ecology, the Puget Sound Partnership, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Yet, we know that people who are exposed to nature show better conservation behaviors, improved learning, and stronger physical, mental and social health.3
Sources: 1 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation; 2 Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2016, 3 The North American Conservation Strategy: Benefits of Outdoor Skills to Health; Learning and Lifestyle: A Literature Review, 2010/Home to Us All: How Connecting with Nature Helps us Care for Ourselves and the Earth, 2018.
Past 2020 legislative budget history
The 2020 legislative session was a short, 60-day session that spanned January to early March. Typically, during even-year legislative sessions, the legislature is focused on emerging issues or addressing issues that weren’t resolved the previous year.
During the 2020 supplemental session, the Department faced challenging budget issues. Rising costs were threatening our ability to sustain our core work of conserving fish, wildlife, and habitat and providing fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching opportunities. Yet, we also knew that the state's fish and wildlife resources are central to the economy of the state. Fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching activities contribute over $4.5 billion each year in economic activity, and nearly $350 million per biennium directly to the State General Fund.
The short-term fix that the legislature approved for the 2019-21 operating budget was insufficient to adequately maintain our activities through the end of the biennium. Our submittal for the 2020 supplemental budget was large, primarily due to two unresolved impacts from the 2019 Legislative Session: a gap of continuous funding in our second fiscal year and an increase in legislatively mandated costs not backed by revenue.
Since 2017, WDFW has undergone a third-party financial review and cut $2 million in ongoing expenses. Yet, these facts remained:
- WDFW continue to suffer from state general fund reductions enacted in 2009 due to a national economic downturn;
- The Legislature had not approved an increase to recreational hunting and fishing fees since 2011;
- Several one-time funding patches had expired;
- Federal funding was decreasing;
- Washington’s fish and wildlife work required more management, as the state’s human population continues to grow;
- 74% of Washingtonians support WDFW funding from a combination of both licenses and public tax dollars. ¹
The Department’s total funding request was for $26 million in State General Funds for the supplemental operating budget (Maintenance Level of $12.5 million, At-Risk of $6.7 million, and Emergent Needs of $6.8 million).
¹ America's Wildlife Values - Washington State, 2018.
Past 2019 legislative budget history
The Legislature in 2017 directed WDFW to find efficiencies in current operations, examine the department's management and operation, and develop a long-term funding plan.
In response, WDFW:
- Contracted with an independent consultant for an extensive management review, which concluded that the WDFW's management practices had not contributed to the funding problem.
- Identified $2 million in spending cuts to find efficiencies and reduce the agency's budget needs going forward..
- Conducted a "zero-based" funding analysis that connected the dots between WDFW's mission and its day-to-day operation.
- Zero-base Budget Executive Report
- WDFW foundational map with 2015-17 investment data
- Developed a long-term funding plan, with help from a stakeholder advisory group, describing the current budget situation and offering a vision to stabilize funding.
- WDFW Long-term Funding Plan
Solutions proposed during 2019 legislative session
With a long-term funding plan in place, the Department submitted proposals to the governor and Legislature to eliminate the projected $31 million shortfall and make strategic, focused investments that will provide long-term benefits. The proposal to close the gap would have avoided cuts and preserved current services in the following programs:
- Recovery of at-risk species and prevention of invasive species ($3.5 million)
- Hatchery operations and fisheries management ($9.3 million)
- Hunting management, including hunter education ($3.2 million)
- Wildlife conflict prevention and response ($4.4 million)
- Shellfish enforcement and consumer protection ($2.5 million)
- Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement program ($3.3 million)
- Land management ($2.7 million)
- Customer service support ($1.9 million)
The Department's Budget and Policy Advisory Group was emphatic about not just reacting to today's challenges but also anticipating future needs, essentially telling WDFW to try to secure the funding needed to implement its mission. The Fish and Wildlife Commission, which provides policy direction to the department, agreed.
With that guidance in mind, WDFW developed several budget enhancement requests for the 2019-21 budget cycle. Elements included:
- Conservation investments in such programs as salmon recovery, watershed health, biodiversity, and conservation enforcement ($12.9 million)
- Expanded fishing opportunities and hatchery improvements ($6.9 million)
- Hunting enhancements, including improved law enforcement and access ($3.9 million)
- Wildlife area enhancements, including improved law enforcement ($4.2 million)
- Orca recovery (amount TBD)