Fish and Wildlife Commission elects Chair, Vice-Chair; decides on land transaction and public petitions during Dec. 14-16 webinar


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News release

Contact: Commission office, 360-902-2267

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission met Dec. 14-16 via webinar to hold committee meetings, make decisions on land transactions, black bear timber damage rule making, three public petitions, and leadership elections; and hear briefings on a variety of fish and wildlife topics.

The meeting began Thursday with meetings of the Commission’s Big Tent, Habitat, Fish, and Wildlife committees. Committee meeting agenda items included discussions about the Draft Conservation Policy, Lands 20/20 updates, fisheries season planning, and sea duck management.

On Friday, the meeting began with a decision to open public comment on the updated draft Conservation Policy beginning Monday, Dec. 18 through Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. Following that discussion, commissioners heard open public input and the director’s report.

Commissioners approved the acquisition of a 530-acre property at Chapman Lake in Spokane County to provide public access to the lake and surrounding area. Since the Chapman Lake Resort closed in 2011, access to the lake has been walk-in only, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) worked to acquire land on the lake to provide public water access. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) currently owns the property and has agreed to transfer it to WDFW using the Trust Land Transfer program (TLT) funded by the Washington State Legislature in the 2023-25 biennium. The TLT process allows DNR to transfer economically underperforming lands with high ecological values and public recreational benefits to a receiving agency.

Planning for this site is funded through a Boating Facilities Program grant from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office. WDFW will continue stocking the lake with kokanee to support the popular fishery there while continuing to secure and implement funding for development of a new water access site. The property will also support hunting, hiking, wildlife watching, and other outdoor recreation.

The Commission also heard a briefing on 20 proposed projects being considered under WDFW’s Lands 20/20 process, which considers species and habitat management plans, regional conservation initiatives, community perspectives, and outdoor recreation potential. 

On Friday afternoon, the Commission approved a proposed rule change to revise how the Department issues black bear timber damage depredation permits. The Commission also heard a briefing and public comment about potential updates to the North of Falcon Policy.

To close out Friday, the Commission made decisions on three public petitions. The Commission approved a petition to begin rule making to amend a fishing season on Deer Lake in Stevens County. The Commission denied a petition to initiate rule making for a recreational spring black bear hunting season. The Commission accepted a petition to begin rule making for black bear and cougar seasons and committed to work with staff to determine what elements of the petition will be in the proposed rules and the schedule for rule making.

Saturday began with open public input. Then the Commission amended its Rules of Procedure, which guides its internal operations. The Commission then elected Barbara Baker as Chair and Tim Ragen as Vice-Chair and hired an executive assistant. The meeting concluded with a meeting debrief and future meeting planning. 

The meeting was recorded and will be published on the Commission webpage so the public can watch afterward at their convenience.

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

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