2023 Legislative Priorities
Hatchery routine maintenance under Shoreline Management Act permitting requirements
There is often uncertainty from local government whether hatchery activities can be considered normal maintenance and operations because those activities include sediment removal and the placement of structures that are more often associated with new development. Local governments may require a permit for this work or for the placement of a temporary weir across a stream, which is a typical part of hatchery operations.
Because WDFW is considered the agency with expertise in safely conducting in-water work to protect fish, other authorities often defer to WDFW’s expertise on such work when granting permits. This permitting process reduces the efficiency and timeliness of hatchery maintenance.
This proposal is similar to a current exception from Shoreline Management Act permitting for maintenance and repair completed by the Department of Transportation.
- Fact Sheet: Streamlining maintenance at hatcheries
Recreational fishing licenses required for freshwater smelt, crawfish, and common carp
Licenses are a gateway to knowing the rules and regulations for fisheries in Washington state. Part of the licensing process requires participants to read the annual fishing pamphlet and abide by the rules when fishing which helps maintain more orderly fisheries.
This legislation would remove the current exemption from a fishing license for freshwater smelt, carp, and crawfish, to allow for regulation and monitoring of those species.
- Fact Sheet: Smelt, carp, and crawfish licensing
Fish, wildlife, shellfish, and seaweed disease prevention authority for highway signage to voluntary check stations
Fish, wildlife, shellfish, and seaweed diseases can spread across the United States. This can occur through natural movement or through transportation of fish, wildlife, shellfish, and seaweed by humans. Currently, Washington is increasing efforts to prevent chronic wasting disease from establishing in the state. Broadening the Department’s checkpoint authority and ability to notify the public of checkpoints will allow for further biological sampling and monitoring of relevant species.
WDFW is seeking the authority to post signage for disease checkpoints and request voluntary compliance. This legislation would create a new chapter in RCW 77 to include fish, wildlife, shellfish, and seaweed infectious disease interdiction and control.
Capitalizing an account to provide for shoreline restoration revolving funds
When private property owners are interested in solving hard armor failings with healthy shoreline alternatives or asked to consider removal of hard armor from their property, the upfront costs to address armor and shorefront property solutions can be challenging.
WDFW is proposing a one-time capitalization of $4.5 million into a dedicated account that would allow for low interest and easy repayment Shore-Loans to private property owners for their restoration of healthy shorelines and hard armor removal.
- Fact Sheet: Shoreline revolving fund
2022 Legislative Priorities
2022 Legislative Priorities
Three WDFW-requested bills were passed by the Legislature in 2022.
Expanding Eligibility for the ADA Advisory Committee
In 2001, the Legislature directed the Fish and Wildlife Commission to appoint seven volunteers to serve on an advisory committee. This committee represents the interests of disabled hunters, anglers, and wildlife viewers on matters pertaining to barriers to recreational access to public lands, WDFW managed lands, and hunting and fishing opportunities for persons with disabilities. This committee works closely with the Department to review, enhance, and create more recreational opportunities.
As currently written, the requirements to be a member of the ADA Advisory Committee (RCW 77.04.150) for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are too narrow. Eligible members are individuals with a disability, with preference given to individuals with specific disabilities.
WDFW is seeking legislative changes to remove the language that preferences certain disabilities for membership on the advisory committee; as well as adding language to include individuals who have demonstrable experience working with disabled persons in a natural resource environment.
These changes will broaden membership eligibility on the committee for individuals with all types of disabilities and experienced caregivers. It will also increase the performance of the committee by providing for diverse viewpoints and experiences to be included in discussions.
- Fact Sheet: Expanding Eligibility for ADA Advisory Committee
The bill passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor on March 11, 2022. The Legislature also modified the requirements for the ADA Advisory Committee report to be more concise and submitted biennially.
Increasing Access to State Recreation Lands
The Director of the State Parks and Recreation Commission has the authority to provide 12 free parking days per year. On those days, a Discover Pass is not required for parking at Washington State Parks. However, those free days do not apply to WDFW or Department of Natural Resource lands, often creating confusion for visitors.
This bill would authorize the Director of the State Parks Commission to expand free access days to all state recreational lands. The expanded authority would include consulting with the director of WDFW and the Commissioner of Public Lands to designate the 12 days per calendar year where entry to all state recreation lands is free. When practicable, these free days could be timed to correspond with family fishing days planned by WDFW.
Expanding existing State Parks free parking days to all state recreational lands will increase access to those lands for underrepresented communities and will reduce confusion overall for Discover Pass holders.
- Fact Sheet: Increasing Access to State Recreation Lands
The bill passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor on March 17, 2022.
Improving Electronic and Print-From-Home Licenses
Last year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sold 963,000 fishing licenses and 238,000 hunting licenses along with 2 million other supporting documents including endorsements, tags, applications, raffle tickets, and passes. Roughly 27% of those licenses and documents are purchased online through the WDFW website.
Current licensing statutes and rules often require customers to carry paper license documents. Customers that purchase a license online through the WDFW website are mailed a paper license and must have this paper license on hand when hunting or fishing.
WDFW is seeking the authority to implement mobile licensing practices more broadly. Current mobile licensing and print-from-home options can be expanded to include cellular telephone based electronic licenses, tags, and permits. In addition, this will allow customers to display their licenses on a mobile device.
The bill passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor on March 11, 2022.
WDFW's Legislative Mandate
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife operates as the state's principal agency for species protection and conservation, under a mandate defined in Title 77 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). That legislative mandate directs the department to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage fish and wildlife and to provide fishing and hunting opportunities. Department activities also are subject to provisions of Title 220 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).