The WDFW Merger Files: Power Grab, Says TDN

The Daily News of Longview has an editorial today that says Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposal to merge WDFW and State Parks isn’t just about dealing with the massive budget shortfall, but is an attempt to “enhance and consolidate gubernatorial power.”

The paper says that the realignment would strip the voter-approved Fish & Wildlife Commission of its power to hire and fire WDFW’s director and put it under the governor’s office, a move which would “likely will draw strenuous objections from fishermen and hunters, who tend to want commissioners drawn from their ranks and a commission sympathetic to their agendas.”

It also notes that the merger would save just $2.5 million in 2011-13, “which amounts to only one-twentieth of 1 percent of the state’s $4.6 billion revenue gap.”

All of 13 1/2 full-time positions would be eliminated as a result of merging WDFW, Parks, the Recreation and Conservation Office and Department of Natural Resources’ law-enforcement wing.

“Trying to change the Olympia power structure for fish and parks at the same time would only distract legislators’ attention from their sobering task,” The Daily News writes.

But there is one benefit to a merger, the paper says: With DNR’s cops coming into the “Department of Conservation and Recreation,” Cowlitz County might at least have a game warden based in the county in the future.

As of late 2010, there was none.

WDFW Director Phil Anderson is scheduled to speak to Spokane’s Inland Northwest Wildlife Council about the proposed merger soon. He will also be taking questions. The meeting will be open to the general public.

For more reaction to Gregoire’s proposal, see these links:

More Reaction To WDFW-Parks Merger

Early Reaction To WDFW-Parks Merger

So Far, Not Much of a Buzz About Proposed Wildlife Merger


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