Washington hunters and others welcomed three new members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their first full meeting of the citizen panel today, and next week the trio will appear before a state Senate committee.
A public hearing on the appointments of John Lehmkuhl, Melanie Rowland and Tim Ragen is scheduled for Thursday, February 24 at 1:30 p.m. with Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks, and also on the docket are Interim Fish and Wildlife Commission Chair Molly Linville, Jim Anderson and Lorna Smith.
It will be another chance to learn more about the views of those who oversee policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and hire its director. The commission also has a big vote ahead of it in mid-March, take two on approving the limited-entry spring bear special permit season, which would begin May 1 and include new rules officially barring the taking of sows.
After the hearing, the Senate committee may issue recommendations to the full upper chamber where the appointments could come up for confirmation.
Confirmation isn’t required to serve, but currently there are three members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission who are confirmed: Barbara Baker, Don McIsaac and Kim Thorburn.
Given the state’s political balance, sportsmen should not get their hopes up about the outcome, but while these meet-and-greets are usually pretty brief, former Commissioner Jay Kehne did undergo a grilling from former Senator Bob Morton during an early-2010s hearing.
Also of note, members of this particular Senate committee introduced a number of Fish and Wildlife Commission-related bills this session, but none were moved before legislative deadlines, though it’s possible elements of one that would create a task force to look at the panel’s and WDFW’s mandates could still end up as a budget proviso.