Fees Considered In WDFW Long-term Plans

Out 31 percent of its support from the state’s general fund, now with 10 percent fewer employees than just a year or so ago and having to take 10 days off work through the end of the 2011 fiscal year due to the recession, WDFW still must move forward with its legislative mandates to protect wildlife and provide recreational opportunity.

How to do so and what to focus on is at the crux of the draft 2011-2017 strategic plan that was posted online last week.

Not surprisingly, fee increases come to the forefront, but not just for hunters and anglers.

The agency is “exploring the option to extend, permanently adopt or perhaps increase the temporary 10 percent surcharge on sales of recreational licenses, permits, tags, stamps and raffle tickets initiated in 2009. With the temporary surcharge set to expire in mid-2011, a fee increase for sport and commercial licenses is under consideration. This increase would help support hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the state and help fund hatchery production, stock assessments and other activities that support sustainable fisheries.”

To stabilize funding, WDFW is also “seeking new ways to share costs with others who benefit from these services. A number of initiatives are being explored to offset funding reductions and continue to offer core functions and services. Any fee increase is subject to approval by the state Legislature.”

The plan speaks of a renewed focus on conservation to meet increased human population growth and habitat fragmentation. Over the coming years, the agency hopes to recover wild fish, implement hatchery program improvements and develop new, more selective gear for commercial fisheries.

In the meanwhile, for the rest of the 2009-2011 biennium, goals include cracking down on invasive species, recruiting more enforcement officers, figuring out how to acquire land on Simcoe Mountain in Klickitat County and to develop trout and warmwater stocking plans to increase public participation as well as better market them.

There’s much, much more to the plan, but not much time to dig into and comment upon. The deadline to submit your thoughts is July 23.

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