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PostWed Aug 14, 2019 12:11 am 
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Tuesday August 13, 2019 15:26 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Federal and State wildlife agency partnership aims for rebound of endangered Northern Leopard Frogs in Washington

WDFW, USFWS, WSU and Oregon Zoo provide head-start for frogs overcoming long odds


OTHELLO – Hundreds of endangered Northern Leopard frogs have taken a leap back into the wild in recent weeks at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Grant County.

The releases were made possible by a partnership of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Oregon Zoo, and Washington State University (WSU).

WDFW collected Northern Leopard Frog eggs earlier this spring, and after months of growing in the Oregon Zoo's conservation lab and at WSU, the frogs were ready for release in recent weeks.

Once abundant throughout North America, Northern Leopard Frogs are rapidly disappearing from their native ranges in Washington, Oregon and western Canada.

The species has been listed as endangered in the Evergreen State since 1999, and with only one known population remaining in Washington, there is still a long path to recovery for the frogs.

Likely causes of the frogs' decline in the Pacific Northwest include a combination of threats from habitat loss and degradation, disease, non-native species, and climate change. 

By raising eggs through tadpole stage to froglets at the Oregon Zoo and WSU, the partners are working to bypass these threats and grow the population of Northern Leopard Frogs in the region.

"This project was only possible because of the team of partners pulled together by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife," said Lisa Wilson, deputy project leader for the Central Washington National Wildlife Refuge Complex. "Collectively, we were able to take a giant leap forward to protect northern leopard frogs on Columbia National Wildlife Refuge because so many partners were able and willing to collaborate."

Frogs are often overlooked for their significant contribution to the environment, a fact the agencies and their partners are working to change.

"Northern Leopard Frogs are an important indicator of water quality, they are both predator and prey, and many children around the country have their first significant encounters with wildlife by meeting one of these frogs," said Emily Grabowsky, WDFW biologist. "If we can improve and conserve wetland habitat that is good for frogs, we will also benefit other species ranging from other amphibians to waterfowl and deer."

Funding for the Northern Leopard Frog reintroduction is being provided through a competitive state wildlife grant awarded to WDFW from USFWS's Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The agency works to keep common species common and restore species of greatest conservation need.

-WDFW-

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Tuesday August 13, 2019 16:32 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks candidates for ad-hoc fishing guide advisory group


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking candidates to serve on a new committee that advises the department on the commercial fishing guide industry.

Up to 12 individuals from the guiding industry will be chosen for two-year terms that begin in September. The committee may be extended beyond two years as needed. Candidates have until Aug. 27 to apply.

Advisors on this ad-hoc committee will initially provide input on the implementation of a new monthly reporting requirement for commercial guides, said Kelly Cunningham, acting director of WDFW's fish program.

"Beyond that, we want to work with the guide industry to gain a better understanding of their perspective in an effort to improve opportunity," Cunningham said.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, fishing guides will provide WDFW with information such as the date and location of each guided fishing trip, the number of anglers onboard, and the number and type of fish species caught per trip.

"We're looking for advisors who will help us review logbook data and provide the guiding industry's perspective on fisheries," Cunningham said. "We'd like to establish a group that includes both part-time and full-time guides and industry representatives from the various fisheries around the state."

Initially, the advisory group will meet monthly (beginning in September) to ensure timely implementation of the new logbook requirements next year. After the first six months, meetings will be held on a quarterly basis. 

Letters of interest must include the following information:

Candidate's name, address, telephone number, and email address.
Relevant experience and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the advisory group.
Effectiveness in communication, including methods the candidate would use to relay information to regional constituents.
Applications are due by 5 p.m., Aug. 27, and can be emailed to Raquel Crosier at Raquel.Crosier@dfw.wa.gov. Written applications can also be mailed to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Attn: Raquel Crosier, 600 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostTue Aug 27, 2019 10:50 am 
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Tuesday August 27, 2019 09:33 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW to use drone to count spawning salmon nests


SPOKANE- Starting in September and going through November of 2019, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will partner with Washington State University (WSU) on a research project to use drone technology to advance conservation efforts for summer Chinook salmon.

An unmanned aerial vehicle- also known as a drone- will be used to identify and inventory salmon spawning nests, called redds, in three areas of the Upper Wenatchee River watershed. Those areas include near Lake Wenatchee, near Tumwater Campground, and near Blackbird Island (near Leavenworth). In addition, surveys conducted on foot and by boat will also be used.

High resolution photos and video taken by the drone will help to identify spawning locations and habitat characteristics. Redd abundance and distribution are common metrics used to monitor and evaluate the status and trend of adult salmon populations.

The use of a drone is expected to provide improved data for more accurate population forecasting. It is also less expensive and labor intensive than manual count methods used in the past. The use of the drone, and drone pilot Daniel Auerbach's expertise, will be of minimal cost to WDFW. Auerbach is a graduate student at WSU's School of Environment and this project is part of his thesis research. His work is a collaboration with WDFW's McLain Johnson, who leads research efforts in the area.

During this project, drone flights will take place twice per week for approximately an hour at a time, typically during early morning hours. Photos and video will be taken of the river only, not surrounding areas. The majority of surveys will take place on public land and flying over private land will be avoided when possible. Flight plans and procedures will be carried out in accordance with WDFW Policy and Procedures.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostThu Aug 29, 2019 6:30 pm 
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Tuesday August 27, 2019 17:01 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW plans controlled burns in two wildlife areas to restore prairie habitat in South Puget Sound


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) will do controlled burns to restore unique prairie habitat on two wildlife areas in South Puget Sound starting as early as Aug. 29. The burns will occur through mid-October at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area (https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/scatter-creek-wildlife-area-unit) northeast of Rochester and at the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area (https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/west-rocky-prairie-wildlife-area-unit) northwest of Tenino.

Darric Lowery, WDFW wildlife area manager, said controlled burns are weather dependent and will take place for up to five days. The areas targeted for burning are small, varying in size from one to 10 acres.

"Portions of the wildlife areas may be closed during the controlled fires, and people may see smoke for a couple hours after the burns," Lowery said. "We will work to minimize smoke impacts to homes and the surrounding community."

WDFW is coordinating with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), local fire districts, and other partners, to use professional fire crews experienced with doing controlled burns on public and private lands in the region.

Lowery said WDFW uses controlled burns to preserve native grassland habitats, also known as prairies, and control invasive weeds before seeding and planting native species.

Coastal prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington, now reduced to less than 3% of their former area. They support many rare plants and animals, including birds, mammals, and butterflies, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 500 water access areas across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 10:10 am 
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Friday August 30, 2019 11:27 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Bat-killing disease white-nose syndrome confirmed east of the Cascade Range in Washington


OLYMPIA – White-nose syndrome, an often-fatal disease of hibernating bats, has been confirmed for the first time in Washington east of the Cascade Range. Kittitas County is the fourth county in Washington affected by the disease or the causal fungus, joining King, Pierce, and Lewis counties.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) received four dead bats from a landowner outside of Cle Elum this spring. WDFW sent the bats to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI for testing, where scientists confirmed all four bats had white-nose syndrome. The bat species are either Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis) or little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), two species that are hard to tell apart visually.

Earlier this year, the same landowner alerted WDFW that a large group of bats has lived on their property for over 50 years. Biologists confirmed it was a maternity colony, which is where female bats give birth and nurse their young. In August, scientists counted more than 750 bats at the site.

“We are thankful that this homeowner was a caring steward of these bats and reached out to let us know about the bats on their property, and for reporting the dead bats,” said Abby Tobin, white-nose syndrome coordinator for WDFW. “We rely on these types of tips from the public of sick or dead bats, or groups of bats, to monitor bat populations and track the spread of this deadly bat disease.”

White-nose syndrome is harmful to hibernating bats, but does not affect humans, livestock, or other wildlife.

In 2016, scientists first documented white-nose syndrome in Washington near North Bend in King County. Since then, WDFW has confirmed 34 cases of the disease in three bat species in the state. A timeline of fungus and white-nose syndrome detections in Washington is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats.

First seen in North America in 2006 in eastern New York, white-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats in eastern North America and has now spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.

The disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which attacks the skin of hibernating bats and damages their delicate wings, making it difficult to fly. Infected bats often leave too early from hibernation, which causes them to lose their fat reserves and become dehydrated or starve to death.

As predators of night-flying insects, bats play an important ecological role in preserving the natural balance of your property or neighborhood. Washington is home to 15 bat species that benefit humans by eating tons of insects that can negatively affect forest health, commercial crops, and human health and well-being.

WDFW has collaborated with partners, including U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington State Department of Health, wildlife rehabilitators, and others to collect samples from bats and the areas where they live around the state for the past three years. This proactive surveillance work helps scientists detect the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome and track its spread.

WDFW urges people to not handle animals that appear sick or are found dead. If you find sick, dead, or groups of bats, or notice bats acting strangely, such as flying outside during the day or freezing weather, please report your sighting online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats or call WDFW at 360-902-2515.

Even though the fungus is primarily spread from bat-to-bat contact, humans can unintentionally spread it as well. People can carry fungal spores on clothing, shoes, or recreation equipment that touches the fungus. This precaution may be particularly important in areas where natural barriers like the Cascade Range may slow the natural movement of the fungus across the landscape.

To learn more about the disease and the national white-nose syndrome response, and to get the most updated decontamination protocols and other guidance documents, visit www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

For more information on Washington bats, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/living/species-facts/bats

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostMon Sep 09, 2019 5:05 pm 
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Monday September 9, 2019 16:42 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks public input for Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area management plan


OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wants your input on a draft management plan for the 21,200-acre Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area in south central Washington.

The Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area is popular for waterfowl hunting, fishing, and bird watching. Consisting of 15 unique properties called units, the wildlife area spans Yakima, Benton, and Franklin counties.

WDFW will host a public meeting to present the draft plan on Thursday, Oct.10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Benton County Public Utility District, 250 N Gap Road, Prosser.

Over the past year, WDFW has worked with the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area Advisory Committee to develop a management plan that addresses the status of wildlife species and their habitats, restoration efforts, and public recreation.

The draft plan, a short presentation to guide people through the document, the roster of advisory committee members, and instructions on how to comment are available on WDFW's website under the Management Planning section at https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/sunnyside-snake-river-wildlife-area.

The diverse landscape on the wildlife area supports a variety of native and migratory wildlife. About half of the wildlife area is shrubsteppe, an arid ecosystem dominated by rolling plains of bunchgrass, or "steppe". Other habitat types on the wildlife area include wetlands, agricultural fields, freshwater streams, and woodlands.

"Wildlife areas are public lands, so it is important to us that we hear directly from the community to inform how we manage the land," said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager. "We want to ensure that land, water, and wildlife can be enjoyed today and for years to come."

The public can submit comments through Oct. 21 on WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments. People can also give comments at the Oct.10 public meeting.

The public comment period will be done under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which is designed to ensure that Washington residents can take part in governmental decisions that could affect the environment.

WDFW is also updating management plans for the Skagit, Scatter Creek, and South Puget Sound wildlife areas in western Washington, and the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in central Washington.

WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 500 water access areas across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

-WDFW-

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PostFri Sep 20, 2019 6:09 pm 
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Friday September 20, 2019 12:58 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW lifts fire restrictions on most lands in Eastern Washington


OLYMPIA – With cooler temperatures and high humidity, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has lifted fire restrictions on most department-managed lands in Eastern Washington.

Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW Lands Division manager, said the department's action is consistent with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which has also eased burn restrictions.

"We are pleased that Washingtonians can once again build campfires and responsibly sight in their hunting firearms on most of our lands. This change reflects an easing of fire danger in eastern Washington, but we continue to urge hunters, campers, and all others heading outdoors to be extremely cautious while participating in any activity that could spark a wildfire," Wilkerson said.

She noted that some restrictions will remain in place in south central Washington, including a campfire ban through Oct. 15 at all WDFW wildlife areas in Benton, Franklin, Yakima, and Kittitas counties, as these habitats remain more vulnerable to fire longer into the fall.

Similarly, a campfire ban is in place through Oct. 31 at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant and Adams counties and at the Klickitat Wildlife Area in Klickitat County due to their drier, more sensitive nature.

WDFW institutes these bans in the hot, summer months to reduce fire risk across the state, not only on our lands, but on surrounding public lands and communities. This action protects habitat, wildlife, and people, including their ability to enjoy our public lands.

For more information on fire danger in Washington, visit the DNR website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov.

Maps and detailed information about WDFW's wildlife areas can be found online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/wdfw-lands.

WDFW actively manages over 700,000 acres in eastern Washington and about 1 million acres statewide to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

-WDFW-

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Friday September 20, 2019 17:07

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW submits $26 million request for supplemental funds, seeks ongoing funding to serve the public and conserve fish and wildlife


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) on Thursday submitted a $26 million supplemental funding request to the Governor's Office. It marks the first step in a process to gain support from the governor and Legislature for the funding to continue current services, address emerging issues, and deal with a backlog of legislated and unavoidable cost increases during the upcoming session.

"Our work provides tremendous value to the people in our state," said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. "The ongoing funds to create a fully healthy agency is critical to our residents' quality of life, critical to our ability to conserve fish and wildlife, and critical to maintaining sustainable natural resource jobs across Washington."

The bulk of the funding request, $12.5 million, would help the agency address an ongoing structural deficit driven by legislated and unavoidable cost increases, such as the rising costs of wages, centralized state services, and utility increases.

"I'm pleased that last year we presented to the Legislature the results of a performance audit that showed we are good stewards of our financial resources," Susewind said.

To help manage that situation, the department has already made $2 million in cuts to services, and is seeking $6.7 million in ongoing funds to maintain other current services. Without this funding, by June 2020 the department will need to make:

Cuts to species and habitat conservation;
Cuts to fish and shellfish management and eight salmon and trout hatcheries;
Cuts to hunting opportunities;
Cuts to non-lethal methods of managing conflict between people and wildlife.
Cuts to shellfish inspections for the benefit of public safety;
Cuts in access to salmon and steelhead fishing on portions of the Columbia River and its tributaries;
Cuts to maintenance and forest health treatments across the million acres of public land managed by the department; and
Cuts to customer service.
These public services were also at risk in the last budget cycle, when state legislators provided enough one-time funding for the department to continue this work for another year.

The department is also requesting an additional $6.8 million in new, ongoing funds to address seven emerging needs:

Salmon monitoring throughout Puget Sound to provide for fishing and conservation;
Habitat recovery on more than 22,000 acres of public land burned by wildfires in 2019;
Help for property owners to provide fish protections, as recommended by the Governor's Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force;
Removal of sea lions preying on Columbia River salmon, as recommended by the Governor's Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force;
Columbia River fishery commitments;
Humpback whale protections; and
Continuation of a mobile app to help anglers comply with fishing rules.
"I recognize that this is a sizable request, especially in a supplemental session. We would rather not be in this position of requesting a substantial amount of money to sustain basic, core activities that we know provide such fundamental public value," said Susewind. "We estimate that for every State General Fund tax dollar invested in WDFW, and leveraged with other fund sources, that fish and wildlife economic activities generate another $3.50 that goes back into the state coffers. We're seeking adequate, ongoing funding to sustain that kind of return on investment into the future."

The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the department's operating requests in August, plus a $22 million request in capital funding to reduce flooding risks and support hatchery work, including examining infrastructure needs to further increase salmon production for Southern Resident Killer Whales.

View more information on the department's 2020 supplemental request online at: wdfw.wa.gov/2020supplemental.

-WDFW-

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PostSun Sep 29, 2019 9:36 am 
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Monday September 23, 2019 16:46 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW asks farmers to help save fish and contact department before shutting down irrigation systems


YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is asking farmers and other irrigators to contact them two to four weeks before shutting down irrigation systems for the season. Prior notification allows WDFW staff to rescue fish in irrigation canals and return them to their stream.

In Washington, it is common for people to divert or pump water from streams through irrigation canals to water crops and livestock. Fish also enter these canals and divert back to the stream. However, when the irrigation season ends and the canals empty, chinook salmon, steelhead, and other fish species can become stranded.

"We are available to help people shut down their irrigation systems in a way that protects fish," said Danny Didricksen, WDFW fish screening manager. "We work with diking districts, irrigation districts, and individual farmers to rescue trapped fish and return them to their stream. We hope everyone who uses irrigation systems will take advantage of this free service."

In addition to contacting WDFW before irrigation shut down, WDFW encourages people to slowly decrease diversion flows over several days to urge fish to migrate out of the irrigation system and back to the stream on their own.

"We recommend irrigators leave a minimum flow of 50 inches (1 cubic foot per second) in their ditch to give us time to relocate any stranded fish," Didricksen said.

Contact Danny Didricksen at 509-571-5559 or Ray Gilmour at 509-575-2743 for help rescuing fish from your irrigation system.

More information on irrigation diversions and fish protection is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/habitat-recovery/fish-passage/screens.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostWed Oct 02, 2019 5:18 pm 
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Wednesday, October 2, 2019 14:57 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks SEPA public comment on Cooke Aquaculture farming of rainbow trout/steelhead


OLYMPIA – Yesterday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began a 21-day public comment period regarding Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal to farm sterile (triploid) rainbow trout/steelhead in Puget Sound.

The Department posted a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) mitigated determination of non-significance that analyzes the environmental impacts of Cooke’s proposal to transition from farming Atlantic salmon to farming steelhead in several of the company’s existing facilities. These facilities include four net pens located near Rich Passage and Skagit Bay, but in the future may cover three more Puget Sound net pens currently owned by Cooke.

“Given the escape of Atlantic salmon in 2017, we know that there is a heightened sense of concern around the impacts of fish aquaculture in Puget Sound,” said WDFW Fish Program Director Kelly Cunningham. “We want to hear from the public about Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal and our proposed permit requirements.”

In addition to agreeing to farm only sterile fish, Cooke will also need to prescreen any fish destined for net pens in Washington waters to ensure that they are free of disease.

Cooke submitted a five-year Marine Aquaculture Permit application to WDFW in January 2019, and a SEPA Environmental Checklist with supporting documents in July 2019.

WDFW continues to work with its natural resource agency partners to provide oversight and ensure compliance with the terms of aquaculture permits and leases in Puget Sound. Cooke’s proposal would also be subject to additional regulatory review by WDFW’s sister state agencies before the proposed transition could take place.

The public is asked to submit comments by Oct. 22, 2019. The determination, including ways to comment, and supporting documents can be found at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments.

-WDFW-

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PostWed Oct 09, 2019 5:13 pm 
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Thursday October 3, 2019 16:26 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Public meetings scheduled on Willapa Bay salmon management


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will review the Willapa Bay salmon management policy during two upcoming meetings of the Willapa Bay salmon advisory group in October and November.

The advisory group meetings are open to the public and will be held at the Raymond Elks Lodge, 326 3rd St., in Raymond, Washington. The meetings are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, and Thursday, Nov. 21. Public comment will be taken at the end of each meeting.

The Willapa Bay policy is meant to help restore natural salmon runs, reduce conflicts between commercial and recreational fisheries in Willapa Bay, and enhance the economic well-being and stability of the recreational and commercial fishing industry in the state. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for WDFW, approved the plan in 2015 after significant public input, and WDFW is currently conducting a comprehensive review of the policy, with help from stakeholders.

At the upcoming meetings, state fishery managers expect to go over a draft of the comprehensive policy review document, said Chad Herring, WDFW fish policy lead for the south coast. The meetings also include discussion with Willapa Bay salmon advisors and an opportunity for public comment.

“We know how important these salmon fisheries are to the Willapa Bay community,” Herring said. “We hope that the public will come out to share their thoughts on the effectiveness and future direction of the policy.”

More information about the policy and meetings can be found online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wbsag/.

WDFW staff will provide an update on the policy to the Fish and Wildlife Commission on Oct. 17. For commission meeting dates and documents, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings.

-WDFW-

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Tuesday October 8, 2019 15:55 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Contact: David Stormer, 360-902-0058

WDFW seeks applications and nominations for Puget Sound Sport Fishing Advisory Group

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking applications and nominations through Nov. 30 for membership on the Puget Sound Sport Fishing Advisory Group (PSSAG).

Up to 20 qualified individuals will be chosen to serve on the advisory group for 2020 and 2021. Members provide guidance to WDFW on issues affecting recreational fisheries for salmon, rockfish and other marine fish species in Puget Sound.

Advisors should have firsthand knowledge of and experience in marine or freshwater recreational fisheries in their respective regions and be able to communicate ideas to fishery managers. Advisors are an important link between the department and the sportfishing community, and are expected to communicate fishery information and policy decisions to local sportfishing groups in their respective regions.

The advisory group meets three to four times a year, with most meetings scheduled February through April during the annual salmon season-setting process, known as North of Falcon. Additional meetings may be scheduled during sport fishing seasons to advise the department on in-season fisheries management decisions.

Appointments become effective in January 2020. Advisors do not receive direct compensation for their work. Applicants and nominees do not have to be affiliated with an organized group, and current members of the advisory group may be reappointed.

Applications are open to all and any group or individual can nominate a candidate. Applications and nominations must include the following information:

- Applicant or nominee name, address, telephone number and email address.

- Relevant experience and reasons for wanting and qualifying to serve as a member of the advisory group.

- Applicant or nominee’s effectiveness in communication with sportfishing groups and constituents.

- Name and contact information of applicant, or any individual or organization submitting a nomination.

Applications and nominations must be received by Nov. 30, 2019. Applications and nominations may be submitted electronically to David.Stormer@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to WDFW Fish Program, Attn: David Stormer, P.O. Box 43200, Olympia WA, 98504. Appointees to the PSSAG will be notified in late December. For more information, contact Stormer at 360-902-0058.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

=========================================================

Wednesday October 9, 2019 16:50 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Julie Watson, 360-902-2580
Public Affairs contact: Ben Anderson, 360-902-0045

Candidates sought for ad-hoc commercial whale-watching licensing rules advisory committee

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking applicants for a new advisory committee to help the department craft rules and processes for a proposed commercial whale-watching licensing program.

This spring, the Washington Legislature directed WDFW to develop these rules as part of legislation meant to aid and protect the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population.

WDFW will select up to 16 members to serve on the committee, which will operate in concert with a state and co-manager working group. The department is seeking volunteers with a strong ability and commitment to productively communicate their perspectives.

The committee work is estimated to begin in November and include five to seven in-person meetings occurring about once per month, and additional shorter conference calls as necessary. The bulk of the meetings are expected to occur before May 2020, and may be held in Anacortes, Bellingham, Seattle, Friday Harbor, or on the Olympic Peninsula.

Applications must be submitted in writing with the following information:

- Applicant’s name, address, telephone number and email address.

- Explanation of interest and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the advisory committee.

- A brief description of the applicant’s effectiveness in communicating in a group setting and working towards consensus in collaborative processes.

- Description of constituencies represented by the applicant, including the applicant’s ability and capacity to discuss proposals and gather constructive feedback from those constituencies.

- To ensure the advisory group represents a diversity of views, WDFW will prioritize applicants who can represent the spectrum of stakeholder groups and perspectives. The department is establishing a separate government-to-government group involving state, federal, and tribal partners working in parallel with the advisory committee.

Whale-watching advisory committee members are asked to serve until adoption of the amended commercial whale-watching rules (expected in December 2020).

Please submit applications by Oct. 25, 2019 via web form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CWWAG. Those interested may call Chalee Batungbacal at 360-902-2235 if they need assistance or additional accommodation to submit an application.

For more information, please visit WDFW’s killer whale conservation and management webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/orca, or our commercial whale-watching rule-making webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/orca/rule-making and sign up to receive updates.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostThu Oct 10, 2019 4:04 pm 
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Thursday October 10, 2019 15:57 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Federal, state, and tribal governments join forces to practice emergency response should invasive mussels infest Washington waters


OLYMPIA – State, federal, and tribal governments will come together Oct. 23 at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area for the first on-the-ground exercise in the Columbia River basin to prepare for an infestation of quagga and zebra mussels.

Invasive quagga and zebra mussels are small, non-native, freshwater mollusks that have caused significant environmental and economic harm in the United States. These mussels first arrived in the Great Lakes in the 1980s by way of ships’ ballast water from the Caspian and Black Seas. Now, recreational boats are considered the primary cause of mussel spread in the United States.

“Zebra and quagga mussels have not been found in Washington waters, but they have been found on boats transported across state lines. In the past two years alone, we have intercepted more than 50 boats with mussels attached,” said Allen Pleus, aquatic invasive species manager at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We see this exercise as a critical, proactive step to safeguard our state’s ecosystems and economic interests.”

Quagga and zebra mussels can clog pipes and mechanical systems of industrial plants, utilities, locks, and dams. If invasive mussels take hold in Washington, officials estimate it would cost more than $100 million each year to keep Washington’s power and water infrastructure running, in addition to causing catastrophic ecological damage.

In the practice exercise scheduled for Oct. 23, the National Park Service, Spokane Tribe of Indians, and WDFW will lead an emergency rapid response effort to respond to a practice scenario as if quagga and zebra mussels are verified at the Kettle Falls Marina in Lake Roosevelt.

“The Columbia River is the last great river basin in the continental United States that doesn’t have quagga and zebra mussels in it. It only takes one boat to change that,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council, which is facilitating the exercise. “These mussels would have devastating impacts to virtually every aspect of life in Washington, from raising the cost of electricity, drinking water, and food, to threatening endangered salmon in the Columbia River and our vibrant outdoor recreation economy.”

“Quagga and Zebra mussels represent an extreme impact to fishery and natural resources, public recreation, management of water resources, and the economy wherever they are introduced,” said Dan Foster, superintendent of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. “Everyone should be engaged in this fight. Participation in exercises such as this unify us in our efforts to protect and manage these resources.”

The exercise will include deploying and testing a containment system, boat inspections at Kettle Falls marina, a boat decontamination station, and in-water monitoring by skilled divers and scientists.

This effort is supported by funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation through the U.S. Department of Interior’s Safe Guarding the West Initiative, which aims to strengthen federal, tribal, and state coordination to protect the West from economic and ecological threats posed by invasive mussels.

Other agencies involved in the practice response effort include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and other state environmental and natural resource agencies through the Washington Invasive Species Council.

How Boaters Can Help

Clean: When leaving the water, clean all equipment that touched the water by removing all visible plants, algae, animals, and mud. This includes watercraft hulls, trailers, shoes, waders, life vests, engines and other gear.

Drain: Drain any accumulated water from watercraft or gear, including live and transom wells, before leaving the water access area.

Dry: If transporting watercraft from outside Washington State, clean and dry everything. Once home, let all gear dry fully before using it in a different water body.

“Although we’re just practicing, this effort highlights how important it is to make sure we’re all taking extra steps to keep these mussels out of Washington waters,” Pleus said. “By taking the time to clean, drain, and dry your boat and equipment, you’re potentially saving the State hundreds of millions of dollars and helping to combat one of the state’s biggest environmental and economic threats.”

Avoid Fines: The penalty for transporting aquatic invasive species in Washington State can range from a $500 fine to a class C felony. Boat owners should call the Aquatic Invasive Species hotline at 1-888-WDFW-AIS (1-888-933-9247) before their trips for guidance on if they need free decontaminations for their boats or trailers.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Permit: WDFW also reminds operators of watercraft not registered in Washington State, seaplanes, and commercial transporters of specified vessel types, that they must buy an aquatic invasive species prevention permit. These permits are valid for one year and may be purchased for $24 online or from any of WDFW’s authorized license dealers.

For more information on aquatic invasive species in Washington, visit the WDFW website.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

Established by the Legislature in 2006, the Invasive Species Council is tasked with providing policy-level direction, planning, and coordination for combating harmful invasive species and preventing the introduction of others that may be harmful. Learn more at invasivespecies.wa.gov.

-WDFW-

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PostMon Oct 14, 2019 6:33 pm 
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Monday October 14, 2019 15:50 PDT

NEWS RELEASE

Commission to hear updates on carnivore management, revised fishing rules at October meeting


OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to hear updates on wolf, cougar, and bear management, and a number of proposed revisions to fishing regulations at its October meeting.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will meet Oct. 18-19 at the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE in Olympia.

Fish managers will brief the commission on a number of proposed changes to fishing regulations, including opening a section of the Colville River to year-round fishing, updates to recreational sturgeon fishing, and the latest round of the department's rule simplification proposals affecting marine fish, shellfish, and forage fish.

Commissioners will also hear an update on the implementation of House Bill 1579, which directs WDFW to adopt rules liberalizing the bag limits for bass, walleye, and catfish in many waters throughout the state. This language was passed in part to implement task force recommendations meant to increase the abundance of Chinook salmon for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

The commission will hear public testimony on all of these proposals; the public can also comment electronically at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/season-setting.

On Friday, the commission will take public comment on proposed land transactions to protect fish and wildlife habitat and to enhance public recreation opportunities. The land transactions include the 560-acre final phase of the Grayland Property in Grays Harbor County and a 900-acre addition to the Cowiche property in Yakima County.

The commission will also hear a briefing and public comment on proposed amendments to the spring black bear rule (WAC 220-415-080). The proposed amendments include minor permit adjustments in southeast Washington GMUs, mandatory check in of bears harvested, and some boundary clarifications.

During Saturday's meeting, staff will brief the commission on current cougar management. The briefing will include how the department currently manages cougars, the science behind it and comparison to neighboring states.

A full agenda is available online at wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings. TVW will live stream the meetings at tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2019101048 (Friday) and tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2019101051 (Saturday).

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

-WDFW-

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