The Washington senator who has headed up the Natural Resources and Parks Committee for several years is resigning to take a federal position.
Sen. Kirk Pearson, the North Cascades Republican, will join the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he’s been appointed director of rural development for the state by the Trump Administration.
“I am looking forward to serving them in a greater capacity, as well as the people throughout Washington state and our great country,” he said in a press release out this afternoon.
As chairman of the senate committee that many fish- and wildlife-related matters come before, Pearson has held hearings to grill the Wild Fish Conservancy over its lawsuit against WDFW’s winter steelhead releases in his district — as well as WDFW over its lost Cowlitz River winter steelhead.
The elk running around the Skagit Valley were of particular interest to the senator, and this year he effectively handed over research into hoof rot among the Westside’s herds from WDFW to Washington State University.
Before last session, with WDFW asking for authority to increase fishing and hunting license costs for the first time in more than five years, Pearson queried sportsmen and ultimately the fee hike failed, though that will have repercussions this coming spring in his district with the probable inability to open catch-and-release steelheading on the Skagit and Sauk Rivers because of a lack of funding to monitor the fishery over healthy but ESA-listed stocks.
Pearson was one of six senators who last session introduced a resolution to preserve Washingtonians’ right to fish and hunt, if approved by voters, and in January 2016 he was inducted into the Hunters Heritage Council‘s Hall of Fame while Fish First bestowed the senator with its Legislator of the Year award.
Before serving in the state senate representing eastern portions of Skagit, Snohomish and King Counties, Pearson was a member of the state House of Representatives.
The news that Pearson is leaving the Senate comes a day ahead of an election just to the south of his district that could tip the balance of power in the legislature’s upper chamber during the 2018 session.