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WDFW Commission OKs Asking Lawmakers For $24.5 Million From General Fund

Updated 8:45 a.m., Aug. 5, 2019 near bottom with quote from Nate Pamplin on money that would go towards WDFW wolf work.

WDFW will forgo another attempt at passing a hunting and fishing license increase next year and instead ask state lawmakers for $24.5 million from the General Fund to fill gaping holes in the agency’s budget.

WASHINGTON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONERS DURING TODAY’S VOTE ON THE 2020 SUPPLEMENTAL WDFW BUDGET PROPOSAL. (TVW)

Fee hike asks haven’t worked well for the agency this decade and with spending proposals due soon for Washington’s short 2020 legislative session, Fish and Wildlife Commissioners unanimously approved the strategy to use sales tax dollars to help maintain fisheries and hunts, as well as hatchery production, fund a mix of emerging needs, and cover a large cost of living increase.

“It’s a pretty large request for a supplementary budget,” Morgan Stinson, WDFW’s budget guru, acknowledged to the citizen panel this afternoon at its meeting in the state capital.

But it’s also a pretty big hole the agency is trying to dig out of.

This past spring, lawmakers didn’t pass WDFW’s 15 percent fishing and hunting hike or extend the Columbia Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, which were both part of an overall $67 million request that included a $31 million enhancement package, fallout from a March commission decision on fishery management on the big river.

While the House, Senate and Governor did provide $24 million in General Fund dollars, what initially was a $7 million shortfall grew to $20 million as they heaped more on WDFW’s to-do list, including an unfunded cost of living increase for state employees.

That’s led staffers to scramble to figure out how to balance the agency’s budget.

Columbia River fisheries were reduced during a period of lower returns, an after-hours customer service call center contract was eliminated and 4 percent of open biologist and other agency jobs are going unfilled for the time being.

Technically, this year’s fee bill is still alive in the legislature next year, and while there is still some interest among members, there’s been little appetite among commissioners to try it again after the failure of it and one a couple years ago.

The General Fund money that WDFW did receive was front-loaded into year one of the two-year budget biennium with the expectation that the issue would be revisited next year in the state capital, but the strategy of hoping lawmakers go for this new sales tax request does entail some risk.

“We’re putting a lot on the line in year two,” Nate Pamplin, WDFW’s policy director, told commissioners.

That’s because some of the items such as the Skagit-Sauk catch-and-release and some Puget Sound fisheries need to be monitored while the 2020 legislature is in session and the funding hasn’t yet been approved.

If it doesn’t come through in the end, that money will have to come from somewhere else in the agency’s piggy bank.

But outgoing legislative liaison Raquel Crosier did tell commissioners that lawmakers see WDFW’s budget “as a priority,” that revenues to state coffers look good, and it’s not an election year, all raising the odds.

“It’s a lot but we’re optimistic how we’ve constructed it,” added Stinson.

If approved, WDFW documents show the requested $24.5 million would go into three categories.

The first includes $11.4 million to cover increased costs, four-fifths of which was passed on by the legislature.

Another big jag would go towards maintaining/preventing loss of services:

* Conservation, $742K
* Fishing and Hatchery Production, $2,058K
* Hunting, $672K
* Wildlife Conflict Response, $956K
* Shellfish and Public Health, $553K
* Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead activities, $659K
* Land Management, $578K
* Customer Service, $410K

And lastly are recently emerged needs, either as fallout from the fee failure or popping up on their own:

* Humpback whales/Crab fishing incidental take permit: $172K
• Fund the Department’s work to reduce whale entanglement in industrial crab pots

* Puget Sound salmon fisheries monitoring: $2.4M (includes North of Falcon commitments, and Skagit Catch and Release fishery)
• Ensures state meets monitoring requirements in order to open fishing in areas where stocks are healthy
• New and existing needs in Puget Sound, the Nisqually River, and the Skagit River

* Fish Washington mobile app: $311K
• Maintain and improve the app
• Utilized by 100,000 Washington residents to learn Washington fishing rules

* Assisting property owners in protecting fish (HPA capacity): $1.7M
• Meeting legislated requirements for HPAs around civil compliance

* Columbia River sea lion management: $830K
• Reduction in the number of sea lions preying on Columbia River salmon
• Funding a second year of work to implement the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force recommendations

* Columbia River salmon policy commitments: $1.0M
• Funding for alternative gear pilot projects and commercial buyback analysis
• Improves fishing opportunities, while meeting salmon recovery objectives

Following a question posted Friday evening in the Facebook link to this story, Pamplin confirmed that some of the request is wolf-related.

“That request is to sustain current level of wildlife conflict work, and is tied to the fixing our structural deficit. We are asking to have that component made whole in the second fiscal year of the biennium, as well as have it be appropriated as on-going so that we are not submitting a perennial request to maintain current services,” he said via email.

Commissioner Don McIsaac of Hockinson made the motion to proceed with the General Fund-based supplemental budget request and it was seconded by new Commissioner Jim Anderson of Buckley.

The next step is now for WDFW to submit it to the state Office of Financial Management.

It would then need to be part of the governor’s or legislators’ proposed budget(s) and be approved by lawmakers and then signed into law.

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WDFW Releases More Details On New Commissioners; Holzmiller Thanked

THE FOLLOWING ARE A PRESS RELEASE AND A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Editor’s note: For our story last Sunday breaking this news, go here.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday appointed two new members to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission: Jim Anderson, and Molly Linville.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Both new members began their appointments on July 24, 2019, with terms ending December 31, 2024.

James R. Anderson is an active sportsman residing in Pierce County, who has fished and hunted across most of Washington. Anderson brings habitat restoration and extensive policy experience to the table, having spent more than 20 years in the executive management, fisheries and natural resource fields.

JIM ANDERSON. (WDFW)

“Jim brings with him knowledge around salmon and Washington’s fishery management complexities. These topics are some of the commission’s highest priorities and his expertise will be a welcome addition as we consider some near- and long-term challenges,” said Commission Chair Larry Carpenter.

Molly Linville is a cattle rancher out of Douglas County, a member of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, and grew up hunting and fishing in Washington. For four years, Linville has been active on the WDFW Wolf Advisory Group, where a diverse array of stakeholders advise the agency on wolf management implementation. Linville is also a former wildlife biologist with experience working on federally threatened and endangered wildlife species issues.

MOLLY LINVILLE. (WDFW)

“We have valued Molly’s service to our Department for her measured, rational voice,” Carpenter said. “She’s engaged and works to connect with citizens and her communities. These are all characteristics that will be assets in her role as a Commissioner and I work forward to working with her.”

Anderson graduated from Washington State University with master’s degrees in environmental science. Linville graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology.

Outgoing commission member, Jay Holzmiller, of Asotin County, has served as a valued and engaged member of the commission since June of 2013.

“I want to thank Jay for his service. The days are long, the pay is essentially nil, and the issues are challenging,” said Carpenter. “When you dedicate yourself to this role it’s done out of a deep and abiding commitment to public service. Jay brought that plus a lot more to the table throughout the full course of his term.”

FORMER WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER JAY HOLZMILLER (SEATED AT RIGHT) SPEAKS ON WOLVES, COUGARS AND NORTHEAST WASHINGTON UNGULATES DURING THE MARCH 1-2 MEETING IN SPOKANE. “PREDATOR MANAGEMENT ISN’T SEEING HOW MANY DAMN PREDATORS WE CAN RAISE, AND THAT’S WHAT WE’VE BEEN IN THAT MODE,” HE SAID DURING PUBLIC COMMENT DOMINATED BY LOCAL RESIDENTS’ CONCERNS. (WDFW)

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is comprised of nine citizen members, each appointed by the governor. The second appointment fills a previously vacant position.

Commission appointees are subject to confirmation by the state Senate, which will reconvene in January 2020. However, members are official upon appointment and serve as voting members while awaiting Senate confirmation.

Commission members

James R Anderson

(At-large position, Pierce County)
Occupation: Retired Administrator
Current Term: 07/24/2019 – 12/31/2024

Jim Anderson is a life-long resident of the state, and lives near Buckley in rural Pierce County, very close to land his grandparents bought in 1912 and that is still in the family today.  He graduated from Washington State University in 1974 with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science and Masters of Science in Environmental Science (Rural and Regional Planning option) in 1978.  He worked 35 years in professional natural resource management.  He was the Executive Director of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission from 1985 to 2005, before retiring in 2010.

Commissioner Anderson has been and continues to be an active fisher, hunter and outdoor recreationalist.  He started fishing when he was 4, and hunted since he was 10, and has had fishing and hunting licenses every year since. He is an avid backpacker, having hiked all of the 508 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington.  A former mountaineer, he has climbed all the major volcanoes in the state numerous times, as well as many other mountains.

He has served on numerous boards and committees at local, state and federal levels.  He has been Secretary of the Board of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and the Washington Water Trust for many years.  He was a member of the US Fish and Wildlife Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council.  He served for over two decades on the Enumclaw Regional /St Elizabeth Hospital Board.  He has worked with many federal, state and local agencies and understands our governing laws, including treaty rights.  He is well connected to tribal communities and values the work they do and the roles they have played in our state.  He was a key participant and leader at the Timber-Fish-Wildlife Process, the Chelan Water Agreement, Shared Salmon Strategy, Hatchery Reform Coordinating Committee, and many other efforts.

He and his wife, Dianne Meserve have two children, Katie and Erik.

(The following are excerpts from Molly Linville’s application packet to join the commission)

“I am the fifth generation raised on my family’s wheat and barley farm near Reardan, Washington in Lincoln County. I graduated with 34 other students, most of whom were also farm kids and attended Kindergarten through 12th grade together.

“I attended the University of Montana where I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife biology. My mom jokes around that I’ve been a wildlife biologist since I was two when I was catching salamanders in the creek that ran through our farm.

“In 2000, I began working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildlife biologist and a wildlife refuge manager … I had completed all my (masters degree) course work at WSU and was beginning my thesis when my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away and left us [she and husband David] his 100 year-old, 6,000-acre cattle ranch, near Wenatchee, WA. I literally had to quit school and we both had to quit our jobs overnight to take care of the ranch. However, I immediately caught the ranching bug and have been running the cow/calf and haying operation since 2011. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else, it’s like running my own personal wildlife refuge.

“I am active in my community and care deeply about issues that negatively impact rural/agricultural communities. Some of the topics I’ve been working with state legislators on are: fire suppression in communities not served by a fire district, fire impacts on rangeland, environmental laws that have become too cumbersome for small fmaily farms, the mental health crisis in farming communities and predator/livestock conflicts.

“I am a member of the State’s Wolf Advisory Group (WAG), which I find both challenging and rewarding. I serve as a Planning Commissioner for Douglas County and I’m on the school board for our nearby two room school that serves 25 students in Palisades. I enjoy visiting rural high schools as a guest lecturer and often give presentations on the return of wolves to Washington. I was awarded the 2018 Redd Fund Award from the Society of Range Management for excellence in range management for my work in creating on creating a curriculum on the importance of range land that is taught at fire refreshers across the State of Washington and parts of Oregon.

“My roots run deep in the State and I’ve spent a career serving the beautiful landscapes and wildlife populations found here. I would be proud to continue working towards conserving fish and wildlife populations for future generations by serving on the Fish and Wildlife Commission.”

2 New Members Named To WA Fish-Wildlife Commission

Governor Jay Inslee has appointed two new members to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a Douglas County rancher and a South Sound administrator.

An official announcement is expected in a day or two, but the new commissioners are Molly Linville and Jim Anderson, Northwest Sportsman has learned.

MOLLY LINVILLE AND JIM ANDERSON WILL JOIN THE NINE-MEMBER CITIZEN PANEL OVERSEEING THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE.

Linville replaces Jay Holzmiller of Asotin County, who has been on the commission since mid-2013 and whose term as one of three Eastern Washington representatives officially expired at the end of last year but has continued to serve on the citizen panel that sets fish and wildlife policy and oversees WDFW.

Anderson moves into a position that has been vacant since Omak’s Jay Kehne resigned last summer to spend more time with his family and field work after six and a half years on the commission.

Linville grew up in Reardan west of Spokane, and attended the University of Montana where she graduated with a degree in wildlife biology and later worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including a stint as the manager of Conboy National Wildlife Refuge in western Klickitat County.

In 2011 she and her husband David took over David’s family’s  6,000-acre KV Ranch in lower Moses Coulee near Palisades. The operation has been the subject of stories in the ag-oriented Capital Press, the Spokane Spokesman-Review and elsewhere.

They describe Molly Linville as the spread’s primary operator and says she practices “low-stress livestock handling” and uses large guard dogs to help protect their herd from predators like cougars, which are attracted to the area by mule deer and other prey.

She has been on WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group since 2015 when the panel of hunters, ranchers, environmentalists and other state residents with a stake in wolf issues was expanded to 18.

Two years ago saw the Sutherland Canyon Fire burn up nearly all of the KV Ranch, and with how rangeland is generally outside fire district borders and wasn’t DNR responsibility to respond to led her to get involved in reforming coverage.

“After the fire, I just needed to be part of the solution,” Linville told the Press and she worked to move a bill in Olympia by “(educating) agency officials on the value of rangelands and the capabilities of local ranchers to be part of an effective fire response,” according to the Spokesman-Review.

While Linville’s strengths on the commission will be ranching, wildlife biology and an Eastern Washington perspective, Anderson’s will be administration, funding and tribal relationships.

The Pierce County resident is currently the secretary of the board of directors of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, which works primarily on restoring habitat and native species in the inland sea, and which describes Anderson as “widely experienced in state and federal budget, appropriation, and legislative processes.”

Some of that will have come from a 20-year term as the executive director of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission between 1985 and 2004, and as its executive adviser until 2011.

NWIFC came out of 1974’s Boldt Decision and represents 20 tribes in fisheries management and other issues.

In a more dated reference, Anderson’s also described by the Washington Water Trust as a board member and “a founding member of the Timber Fish Wildlife Policy Group, Water Resource Forum, Shared Salmon Strategy and the Hatchery Reform Coordinating Committee,” as well as a “board member on the Department of Interior’s Sports Fishing and Boating Partnership Council.”

Last September, John Kruse, a Wenatchee-based radio show host, found that few sitting Fish and Wildlife Commission members hunted and or fished, but according to PSRF’s description, Anderson “enjoys fishing, hunting” and other outdoor activities.

It’s his strong background with tribal interests that makes him an interesting choice of the governor’s to fill one of three statewide at-large positions on the commission.

On the one hand it will give sportsmen and possibly some members of the general public pause as the Fish and Wildlife Commission represents the state’s hunters, anglers and others, and oversees state fish and game harvest, and management.

On the other, with how closely linked state and tribal comanagement is these days, Anderson’s past nexus could help improve high-level relationships during a period of great stress on Washington’s shared natural resources.

Most Fish and Wildlife Commission appointments aren’t very controversial, though when Kehne came on board at the other end of this decade, there was a lot of angst over his relationship with Conservation Northwest. In the end he proved to be a good fit. However, the state Senate, which confirms the governor’s nominations, yanked  environmentalist David Jennings off the panel after four years because he “was too much of a polarizing figure” to sportsmen, in the words of the Republican in charge of a natural resources committee at the time.

Soon both Jim Anderson and Molly Linville will have their chance to prove their abilities on the important body.

Editor’s note: Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune has a good follow-up story on Jay Holzmiller leaving the commission here.

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