Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bill proposes dissolving WDFW into DNR

Washington SB 6813 is proposing to dissolve the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife into the jurisdiction of the state Department of Natural Resources. As proposed the bill would get rid of WDFW and the Fish and Wildlife Commission would be under the jurisdiction of DNR. The commission is currently appointed by the governor and has the power to appoint and fire the director of WDFW. Without a doubt WDFW has its problems, however abolishing our Fish and Wildlife management agency at such a critical juncture for the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead in our state would be a catastrophe.

DNR is primarily responsible for managing state lands and in past years has been heavily criticized for its complicity with timber industry interests. The last thing wild salmon and steelhead in Washington need is to be managed by the same agency that controls logging in many of our watersheds. Furthermore, since WDFW is to some extent overseen by the commission it is to some degree insulated from the unpredictable political climate of state government. DNR is run by the elected Commissioner of Pubilc lands, meaning that depending on the political climate fisheries management objectives, and the level of protection afforded wild salmon and steelhead could change dramatically.

The bill is designed to save the state money, and has just emerged. We will keep you posted shortly as this develops. In the meantime, check out a press release at WDFWs website:

http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/sb6813_statement.html

and the Bill:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2010&bill=6813

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