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Washington Fish-wildlife commission to convene Thursday in Clarkston

Dec. 7, 2022 Updated Wed., Dec. 7, 2022 at 6:55 p.m.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources, according to the agency’s webpage.  (WDFW)
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources, according to the agency’s webpage. (WDFW)
By Eric Barker Lewiston Tribune

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will convene at the Clarkston Event Center Thursday.

The commission, which is often sharply divided, spent more than a year mired in a contentious debate over spring black bear hunting. It resolved that issue at its last meeting, where commissioners killed recreational spring bear hunting on a 5-4 vote but left room for spring hunts aimed at addressing specific management concerns.

Commissioners, all of whom were appointed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, have frequently sparred over what the proper role of hunting should be, how much biological data is necessary to approve hunting seasons and how it should be balanced with activities such as wildlife viewing and ecosystem management.

The three-day visit begins Thursday with meetings of the Habitat, Wildlife and Fish committees, which are subdivisions of the nine-person commission – each with four members.

Friday features an all-day full commission meeting and Saturday’s meeting will wrap up at 12:15 p.m. following an executive session. Both Friday and Saturday will feature open public comment periods at which people can address the commission on topics of their choosing.

Below is a look at some of the agenda items. The full agenda is available at

The Habitat Committee meets at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Agenda items include the department’s grazing program, and an overview of habitat protection and restoration. Grazing on land managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Asotin and Garfield counties has been contentious over the years.

While not specifically noted, members of the Wildlife Committee may discuss revision of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Game Management Plan. The document is used as a guide by agency employees in their effort to manage the state’s hunted species. The commission and public often looked to the document during the debate over spring black bear hunting to justify their staked-out positions. Thus, its revision has been closely followed and even commissioners who are not members of the Wildlife Committee sometimes sit in on the meetings.

The Game Management Plan may come up in the committee’s time for general discussion that follows a report and discussion on draft issue statements on migratory waterfowl and gamebirds. Revision of the Game Management Plan is in the early stages and will eventually be released for public review before going before the commission for approval. That is expected to happen sometime next year.

The Wildlife Committee meeting starts at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Friday’s full commission meeting begins at 8 a.m. and the open public comment period will start at 8:30.

Director Kelly Susewind will deliver a report at 9:30.

Commissioners will then discuss in order a rule governing protection of shorelines from erosion; the department’s Lands 20/20 vision that describes its land management and acquisition goals; Columbia River whitetail deer status; and beaver management.

On Saturday, the meeting starts with an 8 a.m. open public comment period followed by a report on the Columbia River fishery and then general discussion.

The meetings can be observed in person or online by using links embedded in the posted agenda.

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