WDFW schedules public meetings on plans to survey public and private beaches

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will host meetings in June to discuss plans to survey public and private beaches around south Puget Sound for forage fish habitat.

Beginning in June 2014, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to survey public and private beaches around south Puget Sound to document the spawning areas of forage fish.

The surveys are designed to determine where and when forage fish, such as surf smelt and Pacific sand lance, spawn in southern Puget Sound, said Phillip Dionne, WDFW research scientist.

In all, state marine biologists plan to survey 450 miles of public and private shoreline west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, and Thurston counties. Volunteers from Puget SoundCorps will help crews look for eggs – some the size of a grain of sand, to mark spawning areas.

Landowners who want to deny access to their beach properties can opt out of the surveys by filling out this online form or by calling (360) 902-2552. Anyone who chooses to opt out will need to provide his or her name, property address and parcel number.


“Forage fish play a critical role in the food web, providing nutrients for marine mammals, seabirds, salmon and even people,” Dionne said. “We want to let landowners and beach-goers know our crews will be out on shorelines beginning in June, conducting research on forage fish for the next few years.”

WDFW has scheduled two public meetings on June 2 to discuss the beach surveys. The first meeting will begin at 10 a.m., the second at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Landowners who don’t want their properties to be included in the beach surveys can opt out by calling (360) 902-2552 or by filling out a form online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/research/projects/marine_beach_spawning/opt-out.html .

During the beach surveys, WDFW crews will collect sediment samples to test for fish spawn, photograph beach conditions and take measurements at beaches in Thurston, Mason and Pierce counties. Beach surveys generally take no more than one hour per location.

In all, state marine biologists plan to survey 450 miles of shoreline west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with the help of volunteers from Puget SoundCorps. Crews will cover 1,000-foot beach sections and conduct their work by boat and on foot.

“At the end of the project, WDFW will have a better understanding of what makes good habitat for forage fish,” Dionne said.

He noted that an egg from a surf smelt or sand lance is about the size of a grain of sand, making it difficult for anyone to spot a spawning area with the naked eye.

For that reason, private landowners wouldn’t necessarily know if their beaches are being used by forage fish to spawn.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about forage fish and spawning habitat can visit WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/research/projects/marine_beach_spawning/.

Twelve Puget SoundCorps volunteers will participate in the beach survey project. A part of the Washington Conservation Corps, Puget SoundCorps employs young adults and military veterans, who dedicate up to two years to work on projects designed to restore and protect Puget Sound.

Corps members receive job skills and experience while earning money to pay student loans or continue their education. For more on Puget SoundCorps, visit http://www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc/psc.html .

Public meeting on salmon forecast kicks off WDFW season-setting process

OLYMPIA – Anglers, commercial fishers and others interested in Washington state salmon fisheries can get a preview of this year’s salmon returns and potential fishing seasons during a public meeting here March 3.

Kicking off the annual salmon season-setting process, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will present initial forecasts – compiled by state and tribal biologists – of 2014 salmon returns.

The meeting is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street S.E., in Olympia.

Those attending the meeting will have an opportunity to talk to fishery managers about the pre-season forecasts and participate in work sessions focusing on possible salmon fisheries and conservation issues.

WDFW has also scheduled additional public meetings focusing on regional salmon issues through early April. This series of meetings – involving representatives from federal, state and tribal governments and recreational and commercial fishing industries – is known as the North of Falcon process.

A meeting schedule and more information about the salmon season-setting process for Puget Sound, the Columbia River and the Washington coast is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/

The North of Falcon process is held in conjunction with public meetings conducted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), responsible for establishing fishing seasons in ocean water three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

Final adoption of the 2014 salmon fisheries is scheduled for April 10 at the PFMC meeting in Vancouver, Wash.

State, Feds to Hold Meeting on Marbled Murrelet Conservation

Phase One Meetings

Who: DNR and US Fish and Wildlife Service

What: Scoping meetings for the Marbled Murrelet Conservation Strategy – Phase I

Why: The agencies are seeking public input on the scope of environmental review for this proposal, including existing environmental information relevant for analysis, potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures that the agencies should consider when developing management alternatives.

When: April 30 — 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Olympia: Natural Resources Building, Room 175, 1111 Washington St., 98504

When: May 3 — 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Sedro Woolley: Northwest Region, 919 N. Township St., 98284

When: May 8 — 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Cathlamet: River Street Meeting Room, 25 River Street, 98612

When: May 9 — 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Forks: Olympic Region Office, 411 Tillicum Lane, 98331

At the meeting

DNR and FWS staff will give brief presentations to introduce the planning process and present background information on marbled murrelet biology and relevant policies. The agencies will have discussion stations with more detailed information, where people can talk to staff and ask questions. People will be encouraged to submit their Phase I written comments by May 30.

The proposal’s need, purpose, and objectives and the SEPA Scoping Notice can be found on DNR’s SEPA webpage. A federal Notice of Intent will be published in the Federal Register shortly. All of these documents can be found on DNR’s marbled murrelet website.

Phase Two Meetings

In the following months, we will hold a second phase of public meetings focused on conceptual alternatives that the agencies will evaluate in environmental analysis. When analysis is complete, the agencies will jointly publish a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment and hold additional meetings.

DNR, steward of state lands
DNR, led by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, manages more than

3 million acres of state-owned trust forest, agricultural, range lands and commercial properties that earn income to build schools, universities and other state institutions, and help fund local services in many counties. In addition to earning income, trust lands help protect habitat for native plant and animal species, clean and abundant water, and offer public recreation and education opportunities statewide.

DNR also manages a significant statewide system of State Natural Resources Conservation Areas and Natural Area Preserves that protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them, and provide access for education and low impact public use, where appropriate.

Commission approves new policy for Puget Sound crab fisheries

“This has been coming for a long time,” said Miranda Wecker, who chairs the nine-member commission that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The number of sport crabbers has grown dramatically in recent years, and Puget Sound is – by far – the most popular place to fish.”


Approximately 220,000 people purchased license endorsements to fish for Dungeness crab in Puget Sound this year, said Rich Childers, WDFW Puget Sound shellfish manager.  Five years ago, just 160,000 people were licensed to fish for crab in the Sound.


The State Auditor’s Office, in a report issued earlier this year, found that the state’s policy for allocating the harvest would not accommodate the continued growth in the number of Puget Sound sport crabbers.


The commission’s action to expand fishing opportunities for sport crabbers will likely reduce the amount of Dungeness crab available for harvest by the state-managed commercial fishery in the Sound.  Commercial fishers, who currently account for approximately 67 percent of the crab caught by non-tribal fishers, could see their share drop to 55 percent under the new policy, Childers said.


Tribal fisheries are not affected by the new policy, although all Dungeness crab fisheries in Puget Sound are managed under a single quota that reflects shared conservation goals.


Now that the new policy has been adopted, the commission must still officially change state fishing regulations for it to affect future fishing seasons. The commission is scheduled to hold public hearings on those rules in December and consider final adoption in February.


In approving the new policy, commissioners emphasized the importance of vigilant enforcement strategies, public information and annual reporting by WDFW to ensure that it meets its statutory obligation to conduct “orderly fisheries.”


To support those efforts, the commission authorized WDFW to seek legislative approval to increase fees on recreational license endorsements for Puget Sound crabbing. With the commission’s approval, WDFW will seek to increase the annual crab endorsement fee, currently $3, to $7.50. For temporary licenses, the endorsement would increase from $1 to $3.


On the second day of its two-day meeting is Olympia, the commission has scheduled public hearing to discuss possible restrictions on the use of lead fishing tackle at 13 lakes with nesting loons.


As part of that discussion, the commission will review the findings of a WDFW advisory group established to assess scientific studies on risks posed to loons that ingest lead fishing tackle and recommend ways to minimize those risks.


The commission will continue to accept written comments on banning the use of lead weights on the 13 lakes through Nov. 19. Comments may be submitted to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss at Lori.Preuss@dfw.wa.gov or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501.


The commission will convene for the second day of its meeting at 9 a.m. Oct. 2 on the first floor of the Natural Resources Building in Olympia at 1111 Washington St. S.E. A complete agenda for the meeting is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2010/.

DNR sets open house meetings to discuss program that compensates small forest landowners for costs of regulation

Two of the meetings will discuss eligibility and prioritization requirements of the Forestry Riparian Easement Program (FREP).

The date, time and location of the initial input meetings are:

Open House Meetings

August 4, 2010 – Spokane
When: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: WSU Extension – Spokane County Extension building
222 North Havana Street
Spokane, Washington 
August 9, 2010 – Centralia
When: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Centralia Community College Science Center, Room NSC 121
600 Centralia College Blvd.
Centralia, Washington

DNR will take input from these meetings to draft a set of recommendations that will be reviewed at a third open house meeting, scheduled for late August.

Open House meeting to review recommendations

A third meeting will provide an opportunity to review and supply comment on the draft recommendations that were generated from the input meetings. DNR will deliver a final set of recommendations to the legislature by October 1, 2010.

The date, time and location of the review meeting is:

August 30, 2010, Olympia
When: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Natural Resources Building, Room 172
1111 Washington Street, Olympia, WA
(Follow sign from visitors parking level P-1 to the meeting room).

Send comments to FREP@dnr.wa.gov or by phone at 360-902-1400.

Public-comment deadlines extended on proposed 2010-12 fishing rules

"We’ve received a large number of proposals this year, and we want to give the public an adequate chance to review them," said Craig Burley, WDFW fish division manager. 

"As a cost-saving measure, the department is adopting sportfishing rules for some species on a two-year cycle, which has no doubt contributed to the number of proposals available for review."

Proposed changes for various 2010-12 fishing seasons are posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/rule_proposals/index.htm .  Printed copies of the proposals are available by contacting WDFW’s Fish Program at (360) 902-2700.

Included on the list are two recent additions that would set new rules for spearfishers fishing for lingcod in Puget Sound and for rockfish in a portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Marine Area 5).

Meanwhile, WDFW has scheduled seven public meetings around the state to discuss the new fishing rules proposed by the department, the commission and the public.  Those meetings begin at 6 p.m. at all locations except Port Angeles, where the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Dates and locations include:

  • Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata
  • Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley
  • Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima
  • Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek
  • Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles
  • Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver
  • Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

During the meetings, the public will have an opportunity to discuss the proposals with WDFW staff and submit written comments. Comments also can be submitted by mail to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss at preuslmp@dfw.wa.gov or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501.