The commission also approved modifications to 2011 Puget Sound recreational clam and oyster seasons, based on annual species surveys and expected sport fishing effort. The changes will result in longer seasons on eight public beaches, shorter seasons on four beaches, and a shift in season timing on one beach. Details of the season modifications are available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2011/03/mar0511_04_clams_oysters.pdf .
In other business, the commission approved the following land transactions:
- Purchase of nearly 78 acres of wetlands and flood plain in Grays Harbor County, adjacent to WDFW’s Chehalis Wildlife Area, for $175,000 from a USFWS grant and a pipeline mitigation project.
- Acquisition of shrub-steppe habitat for sage grouse and recreational access in Moses Coulee near Jameson Lake (Douglas County), as a unit of WDFW’s Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area. That 473-acres acquisition will be funded with $120,000 from a Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant.
- A conservation easement on 320 acres of land in the Methow Valley, for large mammal migration corridors, mule deer winter range and shrub-steppe habitat. The land will be managed as part of the Frazer Unit of the Methow Wildlife Area. The easement will be purchased for $1,020,000 from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and WWRP grants. Those funds are part of WDFW’s capital budget and are not available for use in operating budgets.
The commission also was briefed on proposed changes in state bald eagle management plan requirements. Bald eagles are no longer listed as an endangered species and are considered recovered in Washington state. The proposal would reduce current management plan requirements to require site-specific management plans only if bald eagles were again listed as a state threatened or endangered species. Bald eagle habitat protection would continue through the USFWS under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The proposal will be considered for adoption at the commission’s April 8-9 meeting in Olympia.