State law directs the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to protect and preserve fish and wildlife, while also providing hunting, fishing and other opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors. Land acquisition is one of many ways the department has worked to meet this mandate, resulting in the creation of 33 wildlife areas and approximately 700 water-access sites around the state.
This webpage outlines WDFW's process for acquiring wildlife lands, and provides an overview of new acquisitions proposed in 2018 for grant funding. These proposals were developed by WDFW staff for review by the department’s director, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the public.
This rigorous review process is designed to determine which properties will best meet the state's conservation goals and recreational priorities. For this reason, the process is employed even in situations when property owners seek to donate their land.
Key steps in acquiring wild lands for habitat and outdoor recreation include:
- Scoping: All proposed acquisitions are reviewed by department staff in various programs and regions according to guidelines established in WDFW's Lands 20/20 policy. This review includes consideration of species and habitat management plans, regional conservation initiatives, and community perspectives on land use as well as recreation needs.
- Public review: Proposals under consideration by the WDFW director for 2018 are outlined on this webpage and publicized for public review. After reviewing the public comments, the WDFW director finalizes a list of projects that have approval to move to the funding stage.
- Approval and acquisition: As with any real estate transaction, acquisition of a given property can depend on a variety of factors. By law, WDFW can only purchase land from willing sellers at fair market appraised value. Before pursuing any land acquisition, the department confers with the landowner – often at that person's instigation – to determine his or her interest in selling. If an agreement is reached with a willing seller, WDFW submits the proposed acquisition for final approval by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.