Commission decides on land transaction, crossbow petition; receives legislative and budget updates

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Commission office, 360-902-2267

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday approved a land transaction in Eastern Washington, denied a petition to allow seniors to use crossbows during the general archery season, and heard updates on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) legislative and budget priorities for 2023.

The Commission approved the acquisition of a 129-acre property from the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on Martha Lake in western Grant County. WDFW currently leases the property from WSDOT and manages it as a water access area and popular ADA-accessible fishing destination.

The Commission then denied a petition to initiate rule making that considers allowing hunters age 65 and older to use a crossbow during deer and elk archery seasons. WDFW will consider the request during the next cycle of its normal three-year hunting season-setting process, which begins next spring.

Commissioners also received an update on WDFW’s legislative and budget priorities for the 2023 Washington state legislative session. Potential legislative requests in 2023 could include requiring recreational fishing licenses for several species that don’t currently require a license -- including freshwater smelt, crawfish, and carp -- and expanded authority to enforce chronic wasting disease sampling in the state.

Among other items, budget requests in 2023 could include funding to equip WDFW Enforcement officers with body cameras to improve transparency and safety for the public and officers; reduce the agency’s carbon footprint and climate impacts; and a $46.5 million package that would support recovery work for many species across Washington, including western pond turtles, forage fish, pygmy rabbits, and many others.

Notable capital budget requests include $98 million for improvements at more than a dozen WDFW hatcheries, and $41 million for construction costs related to the Duckabush Estuary restoration project.

The Commission is expected to make a decision on potential budget requests in August.

The Commission’s Fish Committee also met Friday to discuss potential policy alternatives as part of its continued review of the Willapa Bay Salmon Management policy.

To view a recording of the meeting as well as presentations or other meeting materials, as well as information about upcoming Commission meetings, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the WDFW. WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.