Calling it “the most difficult state job to excel at,” the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission gave WDFW Director Kelly Susewind an 8 percent raise this afternoon, his first outside of cost of living increases over the four and a half years he’s been in the (very) hot seat.
Susewind, a hunter and angler from Grays Harbor who was hired away from the Department of Ecology in mid-2018, will now make $199,968 a year (and retroactively back to July 1, 2022) to run the state agency that owns over a million acres and hundreds of boat ramps, has some 1,900 employees, operates dozens upon dozens of fish hatcheries, comanages fish and wildlife resources with 30 treaty tribes, coordinates seasons with two neighboring states, navigates overarching federal ESA listings and regulations, rides herd on any number of big cats, wild dogs and other critters, and sets fishing and hunting seasons that provide opportunities for hundreds of thousands to fill their freezer with fresh meat and/or bitch and moan about the state of state fish and wildlife management.
With his last official motion on the citizen panel, Commissioner Don McIsaac made the motion to give Susewind the raise.
“We feel Kelly Susewind is doing an excellent job in the most challenging state in the country” for fish and wildlife management, said the rural Clark County resident and retired executive director of the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
McIsaac added that through Susewind’s leadership over the past five years, WDFW’s budget had increased 50 percent, which the director had to jump in and correct though he said he hoped to get there by the end of the upcoming state legislative session.
Commissioner Kim Thorburn said she “strongly” supported Susewind’s raise, calling it “a substantial recognition to the good work he’s done” and which has earned him an “A+” in her book.
Outside of Commissioner Jim Anderson, who seconded McIsaac’s motion, the other members were silent during discussion except to say “aye” or raise their hands in approval when it came time to vote.
The decision came after a three-hour closed-door executive session held over Zoom.
Prior to Susewind, WDFW was headed up by Joe Storr (acting), Jim Unsworth, Phil Anderson, Jeff Koenings and Bern Shanks.
Members also voted today to increase commission secretary Nikki Kloepfer’s pay effective January 1, 2023.