Accessing Washington's outdoors

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Melissa Espinosa

Washington is recognized around the world for its wide array of outdoor recreational activities and wildlife. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) encourages anyone with a disability to experience recreation in Washington's wonderful outdoors. Numerous opportunities are offered for hunters and anglers with disabilities through legislative mandates, statues, and policies complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Partners in accessibility

WDFW employs an ADA committee comprised of representation from all the department's programs and regions. This committee is proactive and dedicated to providing persons with disabilities access to programs, facilities, and services.

The ADA Advisory Committee to the Fish and Wildlife Commission consists of Washington residents with disabilities representing each region. This committee works closely with the Department's ADA Committee to review, enhance, and create more recreational opportunities and legislation for persons with disabilities.

WDFW also partners with Cities, Counties, other State Agencies, US Forest Service, private landowners and Timber Companies to develop hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. Our programs and projects represent good examples of accomplishments through the cooperative efforts of public-private partnerships and the many dedicated members of the Disabled Sportsman Association, disable veterans organizations, Wounded Warrior Project, Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Washington Poggie Club, Corporate organizations, sporting clubs, and WDFW personnel who have all volunteered their time, dollars and efforts to make these programs and projects successful.

Legislative News

House Bill 1230:  More than 58,000 people with a disability actively participate in WDFW programs designed to meet the goals of the ADA each year. WDFW has proposed legislation to offer any customer with a permanent disability a discount of approximately 50 percent on the standard cost of a resident hunting or fishing license. This legislation will not affect current discounts for disabled veterans.

Event

The Inland Empire Paper Co. has donated 25 family access permits to the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council (INWC) to be awarded through a drawing for hunters with a disability.

Download and fill out the application today. Application deadline is April 13. 

ADA rule change

WDFW has initiated several changes in the way it provides accommodations for hunters, fishers, and others with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Those changes, adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during a public meeting in June 2018, are designed to ensure that people with disabilities receive accommodations that meet their individual needs. The changes were developed in conjunction with the Commission's ADA advisory committee and underwent public review.

Key changes include:

  • Orange placard: The department will no longer issue orange identification placards. A person's disability designation is now displayed on his or her hunting license with no changes to their disability status. If you have previously been issued the orange placard, you may still display it in your vehicles window if you choose.

  • Shooting from a vehicle: Hunters may no longer shoot from or possess a loaded firearm within a motorized vehicle unless they have been issued a new blue special-use permit placard by WDFW confirming they need this very specific accommodation. In previous years, this opportunity was available to all hunters with disability status, regardless of individual need. Hunters who qualify for this special accommodation must display the new blue placard, pull off the roadway, and turn off their engine before loading a firearm and operating it from within a motorized vehicle. See the special permits webpage for eligibility criteria.

  • Trapping accommodations: Like hunters and anglers, people with disabilities who trap furbearing animals will qualify for ADA accommodations, including assistance from a trapping companion.

  • Special Use Permit appeals process: A new rule establishes a process for people issued a special use permit to appeal the suspension of their permit to an administrative law judge.

More information

For additional information, contact the department's customer service staff at 360-902-2464, or a regional WDFW office:

  • Region 1: 509-892-1001
  • Region 2: 509-754-4624
  • Region 3: 509-575-2740
  • Region 4: 425-775-1311
  • Region 5: 360-696-6211
  • Region 6: 360-249-4628