Commission office, 360-902-2267
OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a land transaction in Kittitas County and voted to move the latest draft of the Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy forward for additional public comment during its June 12-13 virtual meeting.
The commission unanimously approved a Recreation and Conservation Office grant-funded acquisition in Kittitas County to add 318 acres to the northern portion of the popular L.T. Murray Wildlife Area. The property includes a mile of the mainstem Taneum Creek -- critical habitat for mid-Columbia steelhead.
Commissioners were also briefed on budget and state legislative considerations for the 2021 legislative session, a long-term draft strategic plan that is currently out for public feedback, and target shooting regulation changes that would align Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) rules with those of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
A threatened Mazama pocket gopher briefing prompted discussion on how the establishment of reserves and progress on recovery objectives has moved the species closer to down-listing and recovery. A public hearing and decision on the gopher's status will be scheduled.
The commission received a briefing on the review of its existing Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy, including an update from commissioners participating in the Columbia River Policy Workgroup. After considerable discussion and public comment, the commission, in a 6-3 vote, supported releasing the latest draft language of the policy to allow for additional public input. The public can learn more about the policy review process and submit comment at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/columbia-river-policy-review.
On Saturday, the commission welcomed a Yakama Nation Fisheries presentation about the challenges and successes in collaborative work with the department to restore fish populations. The tribe spoke about joint restoration efforts and resulting bull trout recovery indicators, their steelhead kelt reconditioning efforts, joint salmon restoration work, the danger of warming river waters and other issues that put smolts at risk, as well as the importance of continued collaboration.
The commission also heard an update on the rapidly increasing number of solar farms across the state and how the selection of such sites can have unintended impacts to wildlife, such as shrubsteppe habitat loss or fencing that prevents seasonal animal movements.
A recording of the meeting will be available at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings/2020.
The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the department. WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.