Public invited to weigh in on Washington state marine parks use and fees

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is asking the boating public to help the agency better understand how boaters use state marine parks and provide their views on possible changes to fees and policies for next year.

Boaters are invited to take an online survey at: www.parks.wa.gov/165/Boating-Fees. The 30-question confidential survey takes about 5 to 15 minutes to complete. The deadline to complete the survey is June 15. A summary of results will be posted on the same web page in July.

State Parks manages more than 40 marine parks, located primarily in Puget Sound. These parks are accessible only by boat and often feature floats or buoys for overnight moorage. Since 2009, the agency has lost almost 80 percent of its tax support, and moorage fees are well below market rates. Results from the survey will help guide State Parks in developing a sustainable funding structure as it takes a more market-based approach to managing all of its facilities.

Web survey boating

Maps showing marine park locations are available on the internet atwww.parks.wa.gov/648/Moorage. For more information about current boating-related fees for state marine parks, visit: www.parks.wa.gov/165/Boating-Fees. For more information about the survey, call (360) 902-8667.

Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks

at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParkswww.twitter.com/WaStatePks andwww.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visitwww.discoverpass.wa.gov.

Catch trout, salmon, crab across Washington during Free Fishing Weekend

Some of the most popular fishing opportunities are available for anglers in the coming weeks, including trout in hundreds of rivers, crab in south Puget Sound, chinook in the Columbia River and salmon in ocean waters along the coast.

Sound like fun? Prospective anglers who are interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license can get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 7-8.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. In addition, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required that weekend to park at any of the 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size restrictions and bag limits will still be in effect.

In addition, all anglers will be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead or halibut they catch that weekend. They also must fill out a catch record card for crab, which is open only in South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) during Free Fishing Weekend.

Catch record cards and WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state.

Of course, this month’s fishing opportunities don’t begin and end with Free Fishing Weekend. Other key dates for anglers include:

  • May 31 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon open in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 1 – Crab fishing opens in Marine Area 13 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • June 7 – Trout fishing opens in hundreds of rivers across the state.
  • June 14 – Traditional recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho get under way in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 16 – Fishing for summer chinook and sockeye salmon opens on the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • July 3 – Crab fisheries open in most areas of Puget Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/ . These reports are updated throughout the month to provide up-to-date information about recreational opportunities around the state.

Fish without a license during Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend June 7-8

Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing – legally – without a license. How? By taking advantage of ‘Free Fishing Weekend,’ scheduled for June 7-8.

 

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

 

Anglers will not need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles on selected waters where two pole fishing is permitted. Anglers will also not need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

 

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, have not taken up a rod and reel in years, or want to introduce a friend or young family member to the sport,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

 

Anglers have been catching daily limits of trout at lakes for the past month, and many rivers will open to trout fishing June 7 throughout the state. Other options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:

 

  • Hatchery chinook salmon in Washington’s ocean waters.
  • Lingcod on the coast and Puget Sound.
  • Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout eastern Washington.
  • Shad on the Columbia River.
  • Spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River.
  • Hatchery steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River and on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

 

WDFW has been working to expand Internet-based resources to suit anglers of all skill levels, said Donley, who encourages anglers to check the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage wdfw.wa.gov for details on fishing opportunities. The map-based webpage includes fishing information by county, lake and fish species throughout the state.

 

And, for those who prefer the show-and-tell approach, Donley recommends the department’s YouTube page http://www.youtube.com/thewdfw, with “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques for both new and seasoned anglers.

 

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and closures will still be in effect. Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon or steelhead they catch.

 

Catch record cards and 2014/2015 sportfishing rules pamphlets are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/  on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.

 

The sportfishing rules pamphlet also is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

WDFW cautions boaters to steer clear of killer whales

With summer approaching, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding recreational boaters to give killer whales and other marine mammals a wide berth.

State and federal law requires boaters to stay at least 200 yards away from southern resident orcas and to avoid positioning their vessels in the path of oncoming whales. Boaters who inadvertently find themselves in violation of the 200 yard proximity are required to stop immediately and allow the whale to pass.

These regulations apply to a variety of small watercraft, including tour boats, private powerboats, commercial fishing boats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes and personal watercraft.

WDFW is preparing for a busy boating and whale-watching season, said Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy police chief.

“Boaters have a responsibility to keep their distance from these animals,” he said. “To make sure this happens, the department is increasing the number of enforcement patrols dedicated to monitoring boaters and their interactions with whales.”

WDFW issued 13 citations and dozens of warnings to recreational boaters last year. Federal law also includes broad restrictions against disturbing or harassing any marine mammal. Violating the state law can result in a fine of up to $1,025. The maximum fine under federal law is $10,000.

Human disturbances, including boat traffic, may interfere with the whales’ ability to feed, communicate with one another and care for their young, said Gary Wiles, WDFW wildlife biologist.

The southern resident orca population has declined to 80 whales, down from 98 in 1995. The population is classified as “endangered” by both the state of Washington and the federal government.

These whales, which mostly travel the waters of northern Puget Sound and the outer coast, account for the majority of orca whales found in Washington from early spring to late fall, Wiles said. Major threats to their survival include the declining abundance of chinook salmon, exposure to pollutants and disruptions from vessels.

Under state law, it is unlawful to:

  • Approach or cause a vessel to approach within 200 yards of a killer whale.
  • Position a vessel in the path of an orca at any point located within 400 yards of the whale. This includes intercepting a killer whale by positioning a vessel so that the prevailing wind or water current carries the vessel within 400 yards of the whale.
  • Fail to disengage the transmission of a vessel that is within 200 yards of an orca.
  • Feed a killer whale.

WDFW partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to enforce these laws.

To report violators, contact:

  • NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964.
  • During business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Monday through Friday, contact WDFW Police at 1-360-902-2936.
  • After hours, on weekends, and holidays, contact the local Washington State Patrol office for your area.

Additional information about the state law is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/orca. Whale-watching guidelines are available at http://www.bewhalewise.org.

 

YMCA raises 227-thousand for Annual (Strong Kids) Campaign

The YMCA of Grays Harbor’s Strong Kids Campaign has well-exceeded it’s goal of raising 160-thousand. In the last 5 weeks, 77 campaigners raised 227,637.50 for the annual campaign that helps provide scholarships and funding for local youth. It also supports programs like the clubhouse, Camp Bishop, and Goldberg Family Discovery Center.

It’s never too late to pledge, visit ghymca.net for details.

Help the YMCA Help Others

The theme for the Strong Kids campaign this year is “Pass It On”. As a child you don’t realize what impact positive role models have in your life. Now looking back, if it was not for the right people influencing our lives and encouraging us, we may have ended up with a completely different life. With the economy and ever changing circumstances there seems to be less we can depend on. It is in times like these that we have to ensure kids have a safe place to be and positive programs to attend. Kids need something they can count on and know it will always be there for them when they need it.

We can ensure those role models and words of encouragement are here for kids today. Our involvement with the YMCA as members, board members and Strong Kids campaigners has given us the opportunity to see the difference the Y makes for the kids in our community. “Pass It On”, the theme for this year’s campaign, is fitting because we want to pass on the positive experiences to the next generation. Through supporting the Strong Kids campaign we can make that happen. The Strong Kids Campaign ensures the Y can continue to award scholarships for memberships and programs. It also supports programs such as the clubhouse, Camp Bishop, and Goldberg Family Discovery Center which provides positive role models and a safe place for kids to go after school.

This year, we ask that you please join us by giving to the Strong Kids Campaign so you too can help “Pass It On” to the kids in our community.

WSDOT will curb road construction to keep traffic moving over Memorial weekend

Using the Washington State Department of Transportation predicted travel volumes and online tools is the key to starting roadway travel for Memorial Day 2014.

With summer travel season getting underway and weather reports calling for just a few scattered rain showers, travel is expected to increase on typical holiday travel routes, including Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, US 2 over Stevens Pass, Interstate 5 through Thurston and Pierce counties and I-5 between Bellingham and the U.S./Canada Border.

In addition to the holiday weekend travel guide, real-time travel and traffic information are also available. These include:

  • Online tools that provide traffic camera images, ferry schedules and a map of highway incidents and closures.
  • The 511 travel information hotline. For out-of-state callers, it’s 1-800-695-ROAD (7623).
  • The WSDOT mobile appemail alerts and other tools, such asTwitter and Facebook.
  • Overhead and roadside electronic signs.
  • Highway advisory stations, 530 AM or 1610 AM.

Please remember to drive sober, safe and avoid distractions as any traffic collision or incident can result in additional traffic congestion.

To help ease traffic congestion, WSDOT and its contractors will suspend most state highway construction work at noon Friday, May 23, until Monday, May 26.

SR 520 weekend toll rates will apply Monday, May 26, due to the holiday. There is good news for Lake Washington boaters: the State Route 520 Floating Bridge and Landings Project contractor will open the east navigation channel underneath the existing SR 520 Bridge for holiday boat traffic from 9 a.m. Friday, May 23, to 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 27.

Travelers whose weekend plans include a trip by ferry, train, personal aircraft or bus should also make plans to avoid holiday delays:

  • Washington State Ferries expects heavy traffic Memorial Day weekend, and suggests that ferry riders consider traveling outside of peak times. Holiday schedules and other information can be found online or by calling 888-808-7977.
  • Amtrak Cascades offers 18 stops along the I-5 corridor. Amtrak Cascades trains often sell out during holidays so make reservations early. Plan to arrive one hour before the train leaves. Check online or call 800-USA-RAIL for more information.
  • WSDOT provides updates on state-operated airports. Check online or call 800-552-0666 for information.
  • Most public transit systems will follow a holiday schedule, and some transit systems will not operate fixed-route or Dial-a-Ride service on Memorial Day.

Hoquiam council splits again, fails to pass marijuana ordinance

The city of Hoquiam last night failed to pass a proposed zoning ordinance that would have allowed marijuana sales and production in some areas. City Councilman Darrin Moir was among the 6 that voted against it “for the amount of enforcement issues that the police department may or may not have to run into, the money’s just not there. Saying we’re open for business is completely false, there’s no benefit financially to the city.” To which one citizen replied during the public comment period “You may not get any money out of it now, but if you open up a business it may bring in another family, sells another house, money will come in. Everybody thinks marijuana smokers are a bunch of couch potatoes, ya know munchies? There’s money to be made.”
City councilman Ben Winkleman pointed out prior to his vote “for” the ordinance; “I don’t know how that’s representing the people that elect you. With 60% of those people that went out and voiced their opinion for and against making it legal for us to just ban it…”
The council split the same as the previous vote 6-6, with councils John Pellegrini, Kay Diehm, Greg Grund, Paul McMillan, Darrin Moir and Bill Nelson voting down recreational marijuana businesses in Hoquiam.

Results of retail marijuana store license lottery announced

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) today posted the results of marijuana retail store lotteries on the public records section of its website. Earlier this week applicants were notified of their standing on each ranked-ordered list produced by 75 lotteries. *
The independent, double-blind process took place April 21-25, 2014, and produced ordered lists of applicants that the agency will use to continue its retail licensing process. If an applicant is within the maximum allotted number of stores allotted for that jurisdiction but fails to pass the licensing process, the WSCLB will withdraw the application and move to the next license application on the list.

Jurisdictions Requiring a Lottery
1,174 applicants were included in the lottery

o    75 jurisdictions required a lottery
o    47 jurisdictions did not require a lottery

The agency contracted with the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center of Washington State University and the accounting firm for Washington’s Lottery, Kraght-Snell of Seattle, to independently produce rank-ordered lists of applicants in each jurisdiction where a lottery is necessary. Being identified as the apparent successful applicant is not a guarantee that the selected applicant will receive a license. There are multiple requirements for licensure such as the applicant must pass a criminal history and financial investigation as well as have a location that is not within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other area specified by Initiative 502 as places where children congregate.

Next Steps
The agency has begun processing the retail applications. Licensing staff will continue to process producer, processor and retailer simultaneously. As of April 30, the WSLCB has issued 25 producer and processor licenses. The agency expects to begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July. 

* The lottery results for Longview were stayed by the Cowlitz County Superior Court pending a May 7, 2014 hearing.

Hoquiam City Council split 6-6, declines Marijuana zoning ordinance

The clouds almost parted over Hoquiam’s moratorium on marijuana businesses last night, as the city council adopted their revised zoning ordinance that would have allowed state licensed stores in some areas on a close 7-5 vote. But then they rejected revisions to their business licensing ordinance voting 6-6 against it – making it briefly legal to locate a store in some zones, but illegal to get a business license for a marijuana business.
Mayor Jack Durney said after that vote “OK friends we’ll think about that huh? Kind of a contradiction in terms if we change our zoning but then we say we’re not going to license them.”
City Attorney Steven Johnson explained “Our ordinance says that we cannot issue a business license if it violates federal law. By not passing this [and passing the other] they’re legally zoned, but we can’t issue a business license.”
After councilwoman Kay Diehm said she was unclear on the issue, the council reconsidered the original vote and failed to pass it’s marijuana zoning ordinance 6-6 against.
It took Mayor Durney to break that same tie on another vote to send the ordinance back to the public works committee “I don’t think we should have a moral discussion about this at this point. I think we need to deal with what the public has told us to do.”
The council will revisit the same ordinance, with one line omitted that would have made medical marijuana collective gardens not only illegal in city limits, but also a public nuisance and subject to abatement by the city.
Councilman Paul McMillan said the change wouldn’t sway his opinion on the matter, and felt that Hoquiam should wait for Colorado to pioneer the issue before challenging federal law.
Councils John Pellegrini, Kay Diehm, Greg Grund, Paul McMillan, Darrin Moir and Bill Nelson all voted against allowing recreational marijuana businesses in Hoquiam.

Single lane closures to cause delays on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass

In preparation for major width and lane restrictions starting April 12, contractor crews will reduce Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass to a single lane in each direction 24 hours a day next week.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and contractor crews will close a lane in each direction from 7 a.m. Monday, April 7 through 9 a.m. Friday, April 11 between Gold Creek (milepost 56) and the Price Creek vicinity (milepost 61). Drivers should plan for added travel time and use the following resources to help plan their trips over I-90: