Washington Lawmakers Called On To Fully Fund WDFW In Op-Ed

Three members of a group that took a deep dive into WDFW’s budget woes say that state legislators need to fully fund the agency so it can better perform its mission as Washington’s population balloons and critters and their habitats struggle.

SPRING CHINOOK ANGLERS TROLL IN THE FOG AT WIND RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“All of us are demanding healthy ecosystems and abundant fish and wildlife. But if we want the department to hold back the tide, we need to give the agency a bigger bucket,” write Rachel Voss, Butch Smith and Mitch Friedman in a Seattle Times op-ed out late this week.

They say that “underfunding … has exacerbated fish and wildlife declines, generating understandable frustration.”

That and ESA listings, lawsuits, hatchery fiascos, commission decisions and predator issues, but the unified message comes as lawmakers in Olympia begin to focus on coming up with a budget for the coming two years.

WDFW is asking for a $60 million bump to help deal with shortfalls, inflation and unfunded mandates from the legislature, as well as provide better fishing and hunting ops, but only a quarter of that would be raised through the license hike, the rest through the General Fund.

Voss, the Washington chair of the Mule Deer Foundation, Smith, an Ilwaco charter boat skipper, and Friedman, director of Conservation Northwest, were part of the agency’s Budget and Policy Advisory Group.

It was convened after the last major legislative session in which state representatives and senators granted WDFW a stop-gap $10.1 million to deal in part with a budget shortfall but also demanded it be audited.

That found “the department compared well with other state agencies and found no significant fat to trim,” the trio write.

A SPRING STORM MOVES OVER MULE DEER WINTER RANGE IN THE LOWER WENATCHEE VALLEY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

What’s more, they say that while WDFW gets just $70 million in state tax money, the fishing, hunting, clamming and other opportunities it provides generates $170 million for coffers in Olympia.

And anglers, hunters and wildlife watchers plunk down “hundreds of millions of dollars … often in small towns from Ilwaco to Chewelah — places that really need these dollars and jobs,” they write.

But chronic underfunding at WDFW since the Great Recession has put natural resources at risk as their problems only grow — declining salmon and steelhead runs, starving orcas, increasingly crowded public lands, continuing habitat loss.

“Fish and wildlife are vital to Washington’s quality of life. Now is the time to invest in conservation and outdoor opportunity, not continue to shortchange the legacy we hold in trust for future generations,” Friedman, Smith and Voss write in urging readers to contact their legislators.

CLOUDS CLEAR FROM THE SUMMIT OF MT. SHUKSAN. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

3 thoughts on “Washington Lawmakers Called On To Fully Fund WDFW In Op-Ed”

  1. The biggest problem with the WDFW is there perceived reluctance to adhere to many of the suggestions of the sportsmen , who have complained of mismanagement of the resources for many years, not only related to Fish, but also big game . They are too afraid to override the tree-huggers about the cougar populations and do not listen about the wolves, and the affect they will have on the big game populations. They’ve always had the attitude, we know more than the sportsmen, and now they again want more money. Very Sad.

  2. Go eat cake. You have lost reality with the sports Men , Women and children of our state. You have let timber and like company’s make pay to play the norm, you should be ashamed of what has happened to our resources . Look at our Hatcherys, was there a run of summer steelhead last year, silvers, spring chinook. Most of our hatcherys are down. And yet you still let them net the Columba river, the last river in the country. And yet you want more money, now your just politicians money for nothing .

  3. As one hand reaches out to ask for more money, the other is busy locking the doors in the face of the citizens. A culture of secrecy and back room deals in the Department, tolerated by the Commission, has left thousands of citizens in the dark about management decisions, and created an atmosphere of dis-trust and suspicion. Yes, they hold public comment sessions, but then go into secret meetings to “negotiate” the resources away. In the end, we are told we just have to live with the results…like gill nets back in all the water. Want our support, give us full and unadulterated transparency and truth.

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