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Sports >  Outdoors

Commission adopts strategic plan, approves land transactions at October meeting

Wire reports

From wire reports

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s strategic plan, three land transactions and a target shooting rule update during its Oct. 23-24 meeting.

The commission also helped recognize seven WDFW award recipients who are working every day to support the fish, wildlife and people of Washington.

The WDFW Organization of the Year award went to Ducks Unlimited’s Pacific Northwest Field Office. Ducks Unlimited has been a strong partner in the department’s efforts to protect, conserve and restore wetlands across Washington. In the past year, its work has realized significant improvements spanning Leque Island in Puget Sound, Elk River near Westport, in the Columbia River Basin near Moses Lake and Giffin Lake near Sunnyside.

This year’s WDFW Landowner of the Year Award went to brothers Mark and Gary Bailey. These Eastern Washington small forest landowners have partnered with the department for more than 30 years to provide quality fish and wildlife habitat, hunter access and hunter mentorship opportunities on their privately owned lands.

The Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award went to hunter education instructor Marty Kotske.

Kotske has worked for 15 years to further hunting safety and education wherever he goes, including the instruction of more than 300 new hunters in Puyallup.

Two individuals were also honored as WDFW Volunteer of the Year.

Rachel Voss, with the Mule Deer Foundation, serves on multiple WDFW advisory boards, advocates for the needs of wildlife and is a strong ally for Washington hunters.

Jim Terry has worked alongside WDFW staff by kayak, foot and vehicle across Thurston, Lewis and Pierce counties to support the recovery of struggling local species.

Director Kelly Susewind further recognized community member Terry Williams with a Director’s Award for his work to build collaborative forums with tribes, utilities, governments and communities to tackle tough fisheries and natural resource issues.

In other business, the commission also approved a 25-Year Strategic Plan designed to proactively address conservation challenges, engage communities through recreation and stewardship, deliver science that informs Washington’s most pressing fish and wildlife questions and move WDFW toward operational and environmental excellence. Designed to serve as a “living document,” the plan will be revisited every two years at least. The commission requested quarterly updates to monitor and support its implementation.

The commission also approved proposed amendments to the Washington Administrative Code covering firearms and target practice on department lands.

The revised target shooting rule will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021; it provides more direction to target shooters to increase safe practices, such as requiring a backstop.

With the commission’s approval, three WDFW wildlife areas will also add acreage through several land transactions:

  • The Big Bend Wildlife Area in Douglas County will expand by 1,365 acres by transferring property owned by the Department of Natural Resources to WDFW.
  • The commission approved the purchase of 112 acres in Thurston County near the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area that includes critical habitat for the endangered Oregon spotted frog.
  • The Chehalis Wildlife Area will expand with the approved purchase of 88.5 acres in Grays Harbor County. This property contains 10 acres of wetland habitat and 2,100 feet of shoreline on Vance Creek, which supports bull trout, coho salmon, chinook salmon and Olympic mudminnow.

The commission also heard comments from the public on proposed changes to its grazing policy on WDFW-managed lands. The department uses grazing to achieve management and community goals in ways that maintain healthy habitat for fish and wildlife. The commission is scheduled to further discuss the updates at their November meeting.

The Friday meeting concluded with a briefing from department staff and a representative from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation on two joint efforts: the status of salmon and steelhead reintroduction into the blocked area above Chief Joseph Dam and northern pike suppression on Lake Roosevelt.

The commission reviewed an update on the Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy (C-3622) and Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy Comprehensive Review. The commission received a summary of new public comments and agreed to further review the topic. More information is available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/willapa-bay-policy-review.

The meeting was recorded and will available to the public on WDFW’s website (wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings/2020).

The commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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