Tag Archives: wildlife

Completed RMEF-WDFW Merrill Lake Acquisition Highlights Value Of ‘Partnership … Collaboration, Shared Conservation Values’


An effort to permanently protect 1,453 acres of prime wildlife and riparian habitat in Washington is complete after the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently conveyed the final parcels of land to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).


The Merrill Lake project is now in the public’s hands and open for hunters, anglers and others to use and enjoy. To date, RMEF and WDFW completed 16 land protection projects.

“Nearly seven years in the making, this is a win for conservation, wildlife and a big win for public access,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We appreciate the good work of our partners at WDFW for the work it took to acquire state grant funding to complete the three phases of this project. We also appreciate and recognize the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office for funding to make this a reality.”

“This acquisition is a great example of partnership and collaboration in service of shared conservation values. It received tremendous public support and funding,” said Kessina Lee, WDFW southwest Washington regional director. “With its unique combination of listed species, unusual geology, spectacular falls, artesian springs and other features, this is a unique opportunity to address ecological, recreational and educational goals, and provide landscape scale connectivity of forested lands in conservation. WDFW appreciates the work of RMEF and the partnership to acquire this property.”


In late 2012, RMEF began work with Merrill Lake Properties LLC and WDFW to initiate the first phase of the project acquiring 297 acres at the foot of Mount St. Helens that also included Merrill Lake’s northern shoreline.

In late 2016, RMEF and WDFW completed another phase that came short of acquiring the entire property. With time running short due to a purchase deadline, RMEF stepped up to acquire the additional acreage saving it from the potential of development.

“This is a critically important project because of the diversity of habitat and the species that benefit from it,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It includes both old growth tree stands and early seral forest growth that provide winter range and year-round habitat for elk. It also benefits black-tailed deer, black bears, cougars, salmon and steelhead.”

In addition to funding from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program managed by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, generous RMEF donors made the final transaction possible.

Washington Gillnet, Fee Hike Bills Set For Public Hearings In Oly

With few new fish- or wildlife-related bills introduced in Washington’s halls of power, it was a nice, slow week for the Olympia Outsider™ to recover from last week’s grievous shoulder owie (and get into rehab for his little muscle relaxant habit).


Most of the action came as senators and representatives held public hearings on previously submitted legislation or lawmakers amended bills, including one addressing in part the game fish status of walleye, bass and channel catfish, or gave them do-pass recommendations.

One bill of note was dropped, SB 5824 from Sen. Doug Eriksen, a different take on recovering southern resident killer whales.

“Tearing down dams, major land grabs and land-use restrictions are not the answer,” the Ferndale Republican said in a press release out yesterday. “A more robust hatchery system not only would mean more food for orcas, but also more opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen, more tourism, and more good-paying jobs in our communities.”

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It would fund construction of a new public-private facility on Bellingham’s waterfront that would operate similar to how some in Alaska are, self-funded through the sale of returning adult pink and coho salmon, as serve as a test for more expansive use of nonstate hatcheries.

At this writing the bill hadn’t been assigned a hearing, nor had another new one (SB 5871) reauthorizing the Columbia River endorsement fee or a third addressing state land management (HB 1983).

Assuming the Great Glacier doesn’t surge out of the Great White North and shove Washington’s capitol into Black Lake over the next few snowy days, next week could still be an interesting one for watchers of state politics, as well as even the occasionally attentive Olympia Outsider™.

The nontribal gillnet phaseout and WDFW’s fee hike bills will be heard before both chambers’ natural resource committees, and who knows what other legislation is waiting in the wings.

Here’s more on those and other bills that are showing signs of life, though sadly the one designating Bainbridge Island (The Wolfiest!™) a sanctuary for wolves has not followed the lead of Punxsutawney Phil and reared its head above ground in any committee yet.


Bill title: “Banning the use of nontribal gill nets,” SB 5617
Status: After garnering cosponsorship from 27 of Washington’s 49 state senators at its late January introduction, it is slated for a 1:30 public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Sportfishing groups like NSIA are calling it a “historic bill” and are urging members to bundle up, chain up, and snowshoe their way to Room 3 of the J.A. Cherberg Building to sign in as “pro.”


Bill title: “Concerning recreational fishing and hunting licenses,” HB 1708 / SB 5692
Status: With a letter of support from 13 state sporting and conservation groups, WDFW’s fee hike bill has been scheduled for a 10 a.m. Feb. 15 public hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources, which should provide an even better gauge for how much support it has.

Bill title: “Broadening the eligibility for a reduced recreational hunting and fishing license rate for resident disabled hunters and fishers,” HB 1230
Status: Lawmakers liked this bill, which would set the cost of licenses for resident sportsmen with a permanent disability confirmed by a doctor, a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner at half what Washington hunters and anglers pay, giving it a unanimous do-pass recommendation out of House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources. Next stop: House Appropriations.


Bill title: “Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance,” HB 1579 / SB 5580
Status: While primarily addressing hydraulic code enforcement and saltwater forage fish habitat, a portion targeting walleye, bass and channel catfish for declassification was amended to retain game fish status but directing the Fish and Wildlife Commission to liberalize limits on the species where they swim with salmon this week by the House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resource.

Bill Title: “Concerning the protection of southern resident orca whales from vessels,” HB 1580 / SB 5577
Status: Had a public hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources and is scheduled for an executive session next week.

Bill title: “Addressing the impacts of pinnipeds on populations of threatened southern resident orca prey,” HB 1824
Status: This bill directing WDFW to apply to NOAA for a permit to take out the maximum number of sea lions to increase salmon survival for orcas has been scheduled for an 8 a.m. Feb. 14 public hearing with the House Committee on Environment & Energy.


Bill title: “Concerning visible clothing requirements for hunting,” SB 5148
Status: Hunter pink received a unanimous do-pass recommendation from the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee and was sent to Rules Committee where it’s set for a second reading before placement on the Senate Floor calendar.


Bill title: “Concerning wildlife damage to agricultural crops,” HB 1875
Status: Dropped this week by a pair of elk country lawmakers, Reps. Eslick and Dent, this bill changing who is on the hook for agricultural damage from deer and wapiti from hunters to the state general fund is scheduled for a 10 a.m. Feb 15 hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources.


Bill title: “Establishing a nonlethal program within the department of fish and wildlife for the purpose of training dogs,” SB 5320
Status: Enjoyed a lot of supportive baying during a public hearing and the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee gave it a 6-1 do-pass recommendation and sent it to Rules for a second reading. House version (HB 1516) receives a public hearing today.


Bill title: “Designating the Pacific razor clam as the state clam,” HB 1061
Status: Could get a “show” of hands, or at least ayes and nays, after a Feb. 15 executive session in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations.

Bill title: “Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes,” HB 1662 / SB 5696
Status: Received public hearings in both chambers, with wide support for changing how counties are reimbursed for lands WDFW wildlife area acquisitions take off property tax rolls. Scheduled for an executive session with the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources next week.

Bill title: “Ensuring compliance with the federal clean water act by prohibiting certain discharges into waters of the state,” HB 1261 / SB 5322
Status: Public hearings held in both chambers’ environmental committees on this bill addressing suction and other mining in critical salmon habitat, with executive session scheduled by the House panel next week.


SB 5404, “Expanding the definition of fish habitat enhancement projects,” would include eel grass beds, scheduled for an executive session by Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks this afternoon, assuming Snowmaggedon The Reckoning stays away.

HB 1341, “Concerning the use of unmanned aerial systems near certain protected marine species,” given a do-pass recommendation by House Committee on Innovation, Technology & Economic Development and sent to Rules 2 Review

SB 5525, “Concerning whitetail deer population estimates,” addresses Northeast Washington herds, scheduled for a 1:30 p.m., Feb. 14 public hearing before Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks

Chance To Chat With WDFW Bios, Managers On Region 2 Fish, Wildlife Issues


Residents of northcentral Washington interested in fish and wildlife issues can talk with local Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff at a public meeting Tuesday, Sept. 19 in Pateros.

The meeting is scheduled from 68 p.m., at the Howard*s on the River Central Building, 233 Lakeshore Drive.


WDFW Northcentral Region Director Jim Brown said the last few years of wildfires, drought, and low fish returns have affected fish and wildlife populations and the local fishing and hunting economy.

These trends have challenged area residents and WDFW resource managers alike, he said.

“This is an informal opportunity to talk with our fish and wildlife biologists and enforcement officers about these issues, whether they relate to post-wildfire habitat recovery, this summer’s new wild chinook salmon fishery, or other concerns area residents might have,” Brown said.

Brown said WDFW staff will provide updates on some issues, but that most of the meeting will be dedicated to questions, comments and discussion with attendees.

WDFW’s Northcentral Region includes Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties.

WDFW Fishing Rule Change: WDFW approves another day of halibut fishing in marine areas 3 and 4, portions of Puget Sound


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

 May 17, 2017

WDFW approves another day of halibut fishing
in marine areas 3 and 4, portions of Puget Sound

Action:  Recreational halibut fishing will open Thursday, May 25, in marine areas 3 (La Push), 4 (Neah Bay), and 5-10 (Puget Sound).

WDFW previously announced halibut fishing will be open May 21 in these same areas as well as Marine Area 2 (Westport).

Effective date: May 25, 2017.

Species affected: Pacific halibut.

Location:  Marine areas 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Reason for action:  After reviewing the most recent recreational Pacific halibut catch data, it is clear that sufficient quota remains to open another fishing day in the north coast (marine areas 3 and 4) and Puget Sound (marine areas 5-10) on Thursday, May 25. Catch data will be evaluated following the opening on May 25 to determine if enough quota remains for additional fishing days in the north coast and Puget Sound. 

However, there will not be sufficient quota remaining in marine area 2 to open another all depth fishing day after Sunday, May 21. We will assess the Area 2 catch and, if there is sufficient quota to open a nearshore fishery, we will announce that the following week.  If not, then the nearshore fishery will remain closed. 

The recreational halibut fishery remains open in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) Thursdays through Sundays at all depths and Mondays through Wednesdays in the nearshore area.

These rules conform to action taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). 

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487.

WDFW’s 2017 ‘Citizen Awards’ honor innovation and long-standing commitment

The following is a press release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

May 16, 2017
Contact: Jason Wettstein (360) 902-2254

WDFW’s 2017 ‘Citizen Awards’ honor
innovation and long-standing commitment


Jarrod Kirkley of River Junky with Dir Jim Unsworth and Joe Stohr behind podium

OLYMPIA – One organization fulfilled the hunting and fishing dreams of youth with severe disabilities, while another matched volunteers with manufacturers to clean rivers around the state. A third demonstrated sustained commitment to conservation and rural livelihoods in central Washington for nearly 75 years.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognized the contributions of these and other top volunteers during its 2017 citizen awards ceremony today in Olympia.

Greg Volkhardt (left) Jim Unsworth (Center) Bryan King (right)

Youth Outdoors Unlimited (Y.O.U) (http://www.youthoutdoorsu.org) of Moses Lake took home an Organization of the Year award for its work assisting young people with disabilities. Supported by the efforts and donations of anglers, hunters and other outdoorspeople, the organization arranges for all-expenses-paid adventures for young people and their families, including adaptive equipment, travel, food, and lodging.


“Youth Outdoors Unlimited makes hunting and fishing wishes come true for young people with serious illnesses and disabilities,” said Dolores Noyes, ADA program manager with WDFW. “This organization teaches youth with disabilities how they can access their recreational dreams using specialized equipment to accommodate their specific physical needs.”

YOU Jim Unsworth Joe Carpenter Nathan Jonson (back) then Faith Torgerson, then Mikey Williamson then Zach heckinger and Cindy Carpenter

Kittitas County Conservation District (http://www.kccd.net) also took home an Organization of the Year award for its 15-year-long effort to expand fish habitat in Manastash Creek, as well as its 75-year-long history of working for conservation and rural livelihoods.

Loren and Norma Holthaus with Director Jim Unsworth

“Kittitas County Conservation District has been a bulwark of support for fish, wildlife and landowners,” said Mike Livingston, WDFW regional director for southcentral Washington. “This organization has played an important role in many of the noteworthy accomplishments in conserving natural resources on private lands in that county.”

River Junky (http://riverjunky.us), a nonprofit organization founded in 2016, was named Volunteer of the Year for connecting fishing gear manufacturers with volunteers to clean up trash at popular water access sites and in state rivers such as the Kalama, Skykomish, Puyallup, Blue Creek Cowlitz, and Sandy River.

“River Junky is bringing people together to clean up our rivers — and making it fun,” said Chris Conklin, an assistant program manager with the department. “Offering promotions, gifts and prizes, the organization and its volunteers are providing a new way to maintain the quality of the outdoor experiences we all enjoy.”

Director Jim Unsworth center, with Sherry Swanson on left and Anna Lael on right, of Kittitas County Conservation District

WDFW also recognized Educators of the Year, Loren and Norma Holthaus for teaching hunter education for more than 30 years in Washington. Together, they taught more than half of the hunter education classes in Okanogan County last year, certifying 108 new hunters. “The Holthaus’s efforts have meant better classes, better training for instructors, and a solid foundation for a new generation of hunters in Washington,” said Chuck Ray, a hunter education coordinator for northcentral Washington.


Other citizen awards announced by WDFW include the following:

Cathy Lynch with Director Jim Unsworth



  • Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award: Cathy Lynch received the Terry Hoffer award for her exceptional contributions as a hunter education instructor. Lynch certified 14 new volunteer hunter education instructors and some 500 students—more than 15 percent of the students in the North Puget Sound region in 2016.

    “Cathy is incredibly effective at finding ways to improve the team’s teaching methods,” said Steve Dazey, a hunter education and volunteer coordinator with WDFW. “She always goes above and beyond, is there when we most need her, and she takes the extra time to ensure young students get the most out of the courses.”

    The award honors Wildlife Agent Terry Hoffer, who was fatally wounded by a hunter accidentally discharging his firearm in 1984.


  • Landowner of the Year: The Green River Watershed staff of Tacoma Water (https://www.mytpu.org/tacomawater) took home a Landowner of the Year award for their work over the past 30 years with WDFW and the Muckleshoot Tribe to manage, maintain and improve opportunities for deer and elk hunting.

    “Tacoma Water staff such as Bryan King and Greg Volkhardt have helped provide distinctive hunting opportunities for decades,” said Russ Link, wildlife program manager for WDFW’s North Puget Sound region. “These two, among others, deserve recognition for their tireless work to support conservation and hunting in one of Washington’s most populated districts.”

Citizen volunteers around the state logged nearly 60,000 hours on WDFW projects in 2016. WDFW welcomes volunteer help to benefit fish, wildlife and habitat. For more information, visit the agency volunteer page at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/.