The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved three land transactions and modified several rules governing wildlife rehabilitation at its Feb. 8 meeting.

 

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), took action on those items during a meeting in Olympia.

 

Commissioners approved the following land transactions:

 

  • Acquiring 1,100 acres in Grays Harbor County. WDFW will purchase this property in partnership with Ducks Unlimited to provide habitat for waterfowl, elk, deer, and salmon. WDFW will be able to provide new opportunities for hunting and wildlife viewing on the property, which is appraised at $2.1 million. The property was originally being sold as 1,750 acres of Anderson & Middleton property in Grayland. The property, off of State Route 105 near Cohasset Beach, is among Six critical coastal wetland projects in the state of Washington that have been awarded a total of $4.7 million through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants Program, which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

  • Providing an easement for one-quarter acre of land to Ferry County to protect water quality for a domestic well on an adjacent property.

 

  • Purchasing a conservation easement on 70 acres in Thurston County to protect habitat for Mazama pocket gophers, which are listed as a threatened species in Washington.

 

The commission also approved several changes to rules governing wildlife rehabilitators. WDFW currently licenses 53 wildlife rehabilitators across the state to care for sick, injured and orphaned wild animals. Those rules, designed to promote humane treatment and care, apply to such practices and the transfer, transport, and release of wild animals.

 

The department, in conjunction with a 12-member advisory committee of wildlife rehabilitators and the public, developed several modifications to the rules in order to provide more clarity and enhance the ability of WDFW to resolve compliance issues.

 

Additionally, WDFW staff provided an update on a review of the state’s hatchery and fishery reform policy, which is intended to improve hatchery effectiveness, support sustainable fisheries, and ensure compatibility between hatchery production and salmon recovery plans.

 

Department staff are initiating processes that will run through 2019 to review the policy, contract with the Washington State Academy of Sciences to update the science, and engage the tribes and the public, after which time the commission considers policy revisions. More information on the review and public process will be available soon online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/hatcheries/hatchery_reform_policy_review/.

 

In other business, commissioners received a briefing on the Lower Columbia River sturgeon population and proposed 2019 fisheries.

 

A winter storm prompted the cancelation of the Feb. 9 commission meeting. An annual update on the management of Grays Harbor salmon fisheries has been rescheduled to the April 5-6 commission meeting in Olympia.

 

WDFW staff also planned to provide commissioners with an update on a comprehensive review of the Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy. That briefing will take place during the commission’s conference call Feb 22, when commissioners will discuss next steps for the review process. The public can email comments on the Willapa Bay policy to [email protected]. The public also will have the opportunity to comment during the April 5-6 meeting, when the commission will consider providing interim guidance for fisheries planning for the 2019 season.

 

An agenda for the Feb. 22 call is available online athttps://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.