Category: Wildlife Area Management
Published: September 2019
Introduction and agency mission
Welcome to your fish and wildlife lands!
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) provides active management for more than 1 million acres of publicly owned land, most of which falls within 33 wildlife areas across the state (https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas). These diverse lands contain nearly all species and habitats present in Washington. With the loss of natural habitat posing the single greatest threat to native fish and wildlife, these wildlife areas play a critical conservation role. The wildlife area management plan addresses all aspects of resource management, highlights areas for public access, education, and stewardship, and aligns with statewide conservation goals.
In addition to protecting lands and water for habitat and people, WDFW manages land to preserve Washington’s natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster outdoor experiences and exploration throughout the state. We do this to support the species and habitats of Washington and ensure they prosper for our collective enjoyment well into the future.
An interdisciplinary team of WDFW staff members, including fish, habitat, and wildlife biologists, as well as enforcement, real estate, and management, developed the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area Management Plan along with significant public involvement. This included input from the local stakeholder-based Sunnyside-Snake River wildlife area advisory committee, tribes, public agencies, and interested residents.
Wildlife area management planning framework
Management of wildlife areas is guided by WDFW’s mission and strategic plan, as well as by state and federal laws. Each new plan is guided by the Wildlife Area Management Planning Framework (framework), which summarizes the agency’s mission, laws, policies and approaches to management of fish and wildlife, as well as public use and recreation. The framework summarizes priorities and guidance developed in each of the agency’s programs – Fish, Wildlife, Habitat, and Enforcement. Readers are encouraged to review the framework in advance, or as a companion document to this wildlife area plan. The framework (https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01810) provides context for the organization and content of wildlife area plans across the state. The framework is a living document, and is updated periodically to reflect new agency initiatives, guidance, and directives.
Purpose and organization of the plan
The purpose of this management plan is to guide all management activities, including conservation and recreation, occurring on the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area for the next 10 years. Management goals, objectives, and performance measures are defined in the plan and provide a clear road map of projects and management actions to support statewide conservation and recreation goals. Actions in the plan are dependent on available budget. Budget reductions made during the life of this plan may delay implementation of some of the actions.
The plan is designed to be a resource for internal and external audiences, and is organized into four parts: 1) overview of the wildlife area and associated units and success stories; 2) goals and objectives, and performance measures for the planning area; 3) environment information, wildlife species, and habitat management; and 4) appendices which support different areas of the plan.
Public outreach and stakeholder involvement process
The agency is committed to a transparent and inclusive public outreach process for all wildlife area management plans. Under the umbrella of the statewide goals (Table 1), a customized outreach strategy was developed for this area, tailored to local and regional stakeholders, as well as local and out-of-the-area visitors and user groups. For this plan, the public process included three elements: 1) tribal, public, and advisory committee meetings; 2) development and distribution of fact sheets, meeting announcements, and news releases; and 3) solicitation of public comments through meetings, phone calls, email, social media, and the WDFW website. Comments on the Final Draft Plan were solicited through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process. The Public Response Summary for this is included in Appendix F.