Fish and Wildlife Commission recognizes community partners at meeting

News release Jun 23, 2022

Commission office, 360-902-2267

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday recognized volunteers and community members who donate their time and resources to help further conservation efforts in Washington State.

Those volunteers recognized today include:

Volunteer of the year
Volunteer citizen scientist Pete Haase works with the Skagit Marine Resource Committee as the coordinator of the Skagit Citizen Forage Fish Survey Team. Mr. Haase personally recruits, helps train, and leads volunteers in monitoring Skagit County beaches and restoration sites for forage fish eggs (surf smelt and sand lance). He collects, prepares, and sends samples to WDFW for analysis. His work contributes directly to the Marine Beach Spawning map, which documents spawning habitat throughout the state. The efforts of Mr. Haase and his team have resulted in long term, frequent and consistent monitoring of Skagit County beaches.

Organization of the year
Washington Sea Grant Crab Team- made up of Kate Litle, Dr. Emily Grason, Dr. P. Sean McDonald, Jeff Adams, Alex Stote, and Amy Linhart- was launched in 2015 in response to a WDFW request to lead an early detection monitoring program for European green crabs (EGC) within Washington’s Salish Sea. The Crab Team has achieved a much greater scale of monitoring and community outreach than would otherwise be possible and has expanded what we know about native and other non-native organisms that live in salt marshes and pocket estuaries. The Crab Team works to quickly detect EGC to increase the ability to control populations and reduce impacts. The group has also built a long-term dataset on EGC and other organisms to help the department track their impacts.

Educator of the Year
Dr. Megan Friesen started teaching at St. Martin’s University in Lacey just prior to the pandemic, making it challenging to provide students with hands-on conservation opportunities. Despite this, she has piloted a project to help control and study African clawed frogs, an invasive species spreading throughout the Puget Sound region that threatens native aquatic wildlife. Over the past year, Dr. Friesen and her students have monitored these frogs and tested new management approaches, including identifying a more effective bait to trap them. Through this work, she has stoked a passion and appreciation in her students for conserving Washington’s wildlife, encouraging many of them to consider careers in conservation. 

Landowner of the Year
Don and Janet Howard, landowners in Columbia County in southeast Washington, have been dedicated stewards of their land and the river that flows through it for many years. Mr. Howard’s family homesteaded in the Tucannon Valley, along the Tucannon River, and he grew up grazing cattle on the United States Forest Service and WDFW lands. The Howards works closely with WDFW, the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board, the Columbia Conservation District, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to construct habitat projects on their property to restore the river to its original floodplain and provide important habitat for endangered fish in the area. Mr. Howard has been an active member of the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board for many years, is currently a member of the Voluntary Stewardship Program, and is an active member of the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area Advisory Committee.

“WDFW could not achieve the same level of results without volunteers and community partners like those honored today,” said commission chair Barbara Baker. “The time and energy they devote to their work goes above and beyond what is expected and we greatly appreciate what they do on behalf of fish and wildlife resources in Washington.”

WDFW enlists volunteers to help with habitat projects, provide hunter education, and assist with species monitoring. People interested in volunteering with WDFW can register and explore volunteer opportunities on WDFW’s Volunteer Opportunities webpage.

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.