WDFW hosts online public meeting to hear input on fish passage and screening law


Gabrielle Stilwater, fishpassagerules@dfw.wa.gov

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) started a process to create new rules surrounding fish passage and screening improvement work. The public is invited to an online meeting on July 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. to learn more about the topic and provide input. No registration is required to attend.

WDFW employee takes measurements inside large culvert
Undersized and deteriorating culverts can prevent fish from being able to swim upstream. The culvert shown here was built to simulate a stream and easily allow for fish to pass.

The rulemaking effort is rooted in recommendations from Gov. Inslee’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force. In 2018, the task force published its report identifying lack of prey as a key threat to Southern Resident Orcas. Recommendation three of the report endorsed agencies to apply and enforce laws that protect salmon habitat.

The task force specifically noted that WDFW should develop rules to fully implement Chapter 77.57 Revised Code of Washington (RCW), better known as the fishways, flow, and screen statutes.  

“The ability of salmon and steelhead to migrate to and from their traditional spawning grounds is vital to their recovery in Washington,” said Margen Carlson, Habitat Program Director at WDFW. “Barriers that block fish from swimming upstream or fish movement instream, such as deteriorating culverts, outdated bridges, and diversion dams undermine the state’s salmon recovery efforts.”

Although fish passage and screening requirements for new construction has been codified through Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) rules, rulemaking for fish passage and screening will focus on benefits and improvements for fish, as well as the standards used for current and future fish passage and screening improvement projects. New rules are anticipated to go into effect in 2022.

WDFW is in the scoping phase for this rulemaking process and has not yet drafted rules. For more information, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/habitat-recovery/fish-passage/rule-making. People with limited internet access can request a printed copy of the public meeting presentations by calling the Habitat Program at 360-902-2534.  

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation 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.