The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today released a report summarizing public comments received through its Wild Future initiative, an effort to engage the public on conservation and recreation priorities and WDFW’s performance.

The report is available on the WDFW website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/.

The department received public comments at six regional meetings this fall and through several online channels. Meetings took place in Lacey, Mill Creek, Selah, Spokane Valley, Vancouver, and Wenatchee. Additional meetings are planned later this winter.

Public comments included suggestions to expand recreational access, increase law enforcement, simplify fishing rules, improve stewardship of land and water, reach out to a more diverse population, and continue efforts to engage with people directly.

“Department staff across the state have been asking people who fish, hunt, and play outside, what we have been doing right, where we need to improve, and where we should focus our efforts in the future,” said Jim Unsworth, who became WDFW director in February 2015.

Unsworth said the multi-year initiative is designed to strengthen the department’s relationships with communities, increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation, and help ensure that WDFW programs and services meet the public’s needs.

“From population growth to changing climate, we face major management challenges over the next several years, and for us to be successful we need the public’s perspective and assistance,” Unsworth said. “Candid conversations with anglers, hunters, outdoor recreation groups, commercial fishers, and others interested in fish and wildlife are a great way to start tackling these challenges.”

In the coming months, WDFW will continue to solicit public input while using the report to help guide improvements to current operations and develop policy and budget proposals to address future needs.