Wild resources (fish, wildlife, recreation) under attack

Wild resources (fish, wildlife, recreation) under attack

Why do Washington’s politicians (of both parties) hate the Department of Fish and Wildlife? Not all, fortunately, but enough to put our fish and wildlife resources in jeopardy. First, the legislature slashed the WDFW budget by 30 percent last year. Everything from enforcement to salmon recovery suffered from that budget bashing. Then, this year, the legislature tried to completely dissolve the agency by “merging” it (along with the State Parks Department) into the Department of Natural Resources. Putting recreation-focused interests under the management of an agency whose core responsibility is resource extraction makes no sense at all. Nor does it make sense to put fish and wildlife management in the hands of a single elected official who has no training in wildlife management issues. Preventing that type of mismanagement is exactly why the voters of Washington put substantial decision making responsibility in the hands of a Fish and Wildlife Commission representing all stakeholders. Fortunately the public outcry over the proposed merger legislation (Senate Bill 6813) effectively killed the bill (at least the portion pertaining to the dissolution of WDFW). But now, those same bi-partisan legislators who were blocked from axing the department have turned their axes on to the department’s budget. Last year, the general fund allocations to the department were slashed from $110 million to just $80 million. Now, the backers of the recently killed SB 6813 want to cut upwards of $10.8 million more from the already decimated WDFW budget. That means we’d see nearly 40 percent budget cuts for the department in the last biennium. According to the Department, these additional cuts will jeopardize future salmon production with the closure of up to 5 hatcheries, impacting Grays Harbor, Coastal and Puget Sound fisheries. In addition, the number of enforcement officers will be reduced and staffing levels for important salmon recovery efforts will be lower. Many department facilities and public lands would be closed, popular lakes wouldn’t get stocked with trout, and youth education efforts would be reduced. Bottom line: NO other state agency has seen cuts this deep, or this aggressive. The Senate cuts will cripple the Department's ability to successfully manage our fish and wildlife resources and will have a long-term negative impact on all endangered species recovery efforts in our State. If you care about public lands, wildlife and fisheries, now is the time to take action. Call, email or write your local state senator and/or representative and tell them you oppose these draconian cuts to our state’s wild resources. Use this link to contact your elected officials:
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