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OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet Friday, Feb. 12 to consider two items: the Periodic Status Review for the Oregon vesper sparrow and changes to Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and Commission Policy with respect to livestock grazing on lands managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The Oregon vesper sparrow is struggling to maintain its foothold in the Pacific Northwest with a declining population estimated at 300 in Washington. On Friday, the Commission will decide whether to list the bird as endangered in the state.
Also on the agenda are two decisions that would affect grazing management on department lands. Up for consideration are proposed amendments to WAC 220-500-200 (Livestock Grazing on Department of Fish and Wildlife Lands) and proposed amendments to Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Policy C-6003 (Domestic Livestock Grazing on Department lands). Meeting materials are available for the public to review on WDFW’s website.
WDFW uses grazing to achieve management goals consistent with its mission and strategic plan to maintain the ecological integrity of the landscape. These two decisions would address a subset of grazing topics on which department staff briefed the Commission last October.
The remaining grazing topics are non-regulatory and not up for Commission action, but a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (20-043) was prepared after review of a draft grazing guidance and management tools document containing technical details about grazing prescriptions, monitoring, tools to minimize wolf-livestock conflict, a framework to evaluate potential new grazing, and other topics.
Last September, WDFW invited the public to submit comments on how the department proposes to manage livestock grazing. A public hearing on the topic was held in October, and the Commission heard updates and public comment on both grazing and the Oregon vesper sparrow status at their Jan. 28 and 29 meeting.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.