Pat Kaelber, 509-545-2028 (office), 509-222-8504 (cell)
Rachel Blomker, 360-701-3101
YAKIMA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wants your input on a draft management plan for the 21,200-acre Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area in south central Washington.
The Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area is popular for waterfowl hunting, fishing, and bird watching. Consisting of 15 unique properties called units, the wildlife area spans Yakima, Benton, and Franklin counties.
WDFW will host a public meeting to present the draft plan on Thursday, Oct.10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Benton County Public Utility District, 250 N Gap Road, Prosser.
Over the past year, WDFW has worked with the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area Advisory Committee to develop a management plan that addresses the status of wildlife species and their habitats, restoration efforts, and public recreation.
The draft plan, a short presentation to guide people through the document, the roster of advisory committee members, and instructions on how to comment are available on WDFW's website under the Management Planning section on the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area webpage.
The diverse landscape on the wildlife area supports a variety of native and migratory wildlife. About half of the wildlife area is shrubsteppe, an arid ecosystem dominated by rolling plains of bunchgrass, or “steppe”. Other habitat types on the wildlife area include wetlands, agricultural fields, freshwater streams, and woodlands.
"Wildlife areas are public lands, so it is important to us that we hear directly from the community to inform how we manage the land," said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager. “We want to ensure that land, water, and wildlife can be enjoyed today and for years to come.”
The public can submit comments through Oct. 21 on WDFW’s website. People can also give comments at the Oct.10 public meeting.
The public comment period will be done under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which is designed to ensure that Washington residents can take part in governmental decisions that could affect the environment.
WDFW is also updating management plans for the Skagit, Scatter Creek, and South Puget Sound wildlife areas in western Washington, and the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in central Washington.
WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 500 water access areas across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.