Gov. Gary Locke on Friday appointed a Bellingham lawyer with ties to the commercial fishing industry and a rancher from Prosser to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Locke also reappointed Kelly White, a farmer and timber manager from Kettle Falls.
The appointments leave one vacancy on the nine-member commission, which sets recreational fishing and hunting seasons and oversees policies of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It’s unclear when Locke will fill the ninth seat.
The two new fish and wildlife commissioners are:
Milton “Bud” Mercer, owner of a 6,200-acre ranch in Prosser. He will serve the remaining four years of a seat occupied by Roger Contor, an Eastern Washington representative who was dismissed because he moved to Western Washington, according to the governor’s office.
Will Roehl, a Bellingham lawyer who has represented commercial fishermen. His wife, Democratic state Rep. Kelli Linville, also comes from a commercial fishing family.
The appointments come at a critical time, as the commission is expected to vote Friday on a controversial plan to restore statewide wild salmon runs.
The proposed policy would require new measures to protect habitat and lead to severe reductions in salmon harvest levels during recovery.
Before his appointment, Mercer had signed a letter critical of any state salmon management plans that might restrict the use of water for irrigators.
Roehl, whose term will expire in January 2003, replaces Mitch Johnson, who did not seek a second term.
White, who owns a family farm, was appointed to the commission in 1993 by his cousin, former Gov. Mike Lowry. White said he did not believe his reappointment was a favor from one Democratic chief executive to another.
However, White has not been particularly active on the commission.
Contor, who lived in Ellensburg until his wife’s ill health forced a move to Western Washington, was formerly the superintendent of three national parks, including North Cascades and Olympic. He had a degree in wildlife management from the University of Idaho.
“The only thing I can say is that Roger was very committed in the two years he’s been on the board, and he’s up to speed on the very complicated salmon issues we’ll be deciding this week,” said Dean Lydig, Fish and Wildlife commissioner from Spokane.
Another commissioner, who asked not to be identified, said the governor could have appointed Contor to the vacant “at large” position on the board.
Several commissioners confirmed that Pat McMullen, a commissioner from Mount Vernon, has been ill with cancer for more than a year and has had little participation in commission business.
Idaho tags on sale
A sale of leftover Idaho controlled big-game hunt permits will be repeated Tuesday beginning at 8 a.m. A computer error forced cancellation of the sale this week.
The online computer license machines worked at Fish and Game offices, but not at license vendor outlets, said Fish and Game officials. To be fair, the sale will be repeated to give all hunters an equal chance of getting permits for hunts which had insufficiant applicants in the regular drawings.
Salmon choice due
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will select a preferred alternative for the state Wild Salmonid Policy when it meets Friday at a workshop session in the Department of Labor and Industries Auditorium in Olympia.
The 9 a.m. meeting also will include briefings on land purchases, proposed 1997-98 migratory waterfowl hunting seasons, a proposal to adopt fall hunting regulations in April, proposed changes to furbearer trapping regulations and development of an automated machines that fin-clips salmon and steelhead.
The 1 p.m. session will focus on the salmon issue.
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