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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Field reports: Wildlife agency seeks public input on priorities

AGENCIES – Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are asking people to share views on the values and priorities that should drive the state agency over the next several years.

A multiyear initiative – Washington’s Wild Future: A Partnership for Fish and Wildlife – has been launched to strengthen the department’s relationships with communities, increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation and help ensure programs and services meet the public’s needs, officials say.

Regional forums have been scheduled in the state including one in Spokane at 6 p.m. on Sept. 30 at Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley.

Comments will also be accepted through Oct. 31 on the department’s website.

“Since I joined WDFW, I have been asking people, ‘If you could tell the director of Fish and Wildlife one thing, what you would say?’ ” said Jim Unsworth, who was hired in January to lead the agency.

“This is a great opportunity for people across the state to do just that. I want to hear about what we are doing right, where we need to improve, and where we should focus our efforts and our funding over the next five to 10 to 20 years.”

Each meeting will include a brief presentation before participants are invited to talk in small groups with representatives of the department’s Fish, Wildlife, Enforcement, Licensing, and Habitat programs, as well as Unsworth and his staff.

The agency plans to summarize the public comments as well as input from outdoor organizations, advisory groups, tribes, and state and local elected officials.

The information will be used to help identify potential changes in WDFW’s operations and services, and to develop future policy, budget and fee proposals, officials say.

More fire closures reopened on forests

ACCESS – Piece by piece, National Forest officials continue to reopen access to areas that have been closed for weeks because of fire and fire-fighting activity.

On Friday, the St. Joe River Ranger District lifted all large emergency wildfire closures as firefighters, rain and cooler temperatures continue to reduce fire activity in the area. Only a handful of road closures remain.

The Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District has lifted most large fire-related closures, too, although several roads and at least eight trails remain closed in areas where firefighting or related work continues.

The Umatilla National Forest has reduced its closures in the Blue Mountains and provided limited access to the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. The Grizzly Bear Complex fires are still burning and were only 44 percent contained Thursday.

Yellowstone surpasses 3 million visitors

PARKS – Yellowstone National Park attracted more 3 million visitors through August, putting it on track to set an all-time record before the end of the year.

Yellowstone saw more than 854,000 recreational visits in August, an increase of 10 percent over August 2014.

Overall, park visitation is up 15 percent over 2014.

Other national parks in the Northern Rockies, including Glacier Park, also report visitation is ahead of last year.

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