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SB 6813 – WA Senate bill would merge WDFW, Parks under Natural Resources

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Evergreen State hunters and fishermen have historically been treated with a mix of indifference, disdain and outright contempt by the State Legislature and the governor’s office over the past quarter-century.

When thousands of sportsmen rallied on the Capitol steps in the 1980s – brought there by the now-inactive Sportsmen’s Rights Coalition – they were essentially given lip service. The old Department of Game was merged with the Department of Fisheries to create the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, an indication that the agency would – and many complain has – gradually drifted away from the primary mission for which it was created, to serve hunters and anglers and to conserve, protect and enhance fish and game populations. Many sportsmen so hate this agency and the direction that it has taken that they refer to it as the Department of NO Fish and NO Wildlife; an agency that is less interested in enhancing deer and elk herds than it is in bringing back wolves and giving them a big hug.

Abolishes the department of fish and wildlife and transfers its powers, duties, and functions to the department of natural resources.

The advent of a divisive and many believe disastrous hunting management structure called “Resource Allocation” has been blamed for reducing the number of Washington hunters by some 100,000 over the past quarter-century. Under this scenario, hunters must choose whether they will hunt big game with a bow, modern firearm (including handgun), or muzzleloader. Washington’s “strategy” limits hunters, and essentially keeps user groups at each other’s throats, vying against one another for more time afield for their particular interest group.

The once-thriving pheasant release program is a shadow of its former self, and non-existent in eastern Washington where, a generation ago, pheasant hunting rivaled that found in some Midwest states. The only “new” program that has benefited Washington hunters in the past 25 years has been the wild turkey project spearheaded by now-retired game biologist Dan Blatt. This was a roaring success thanks to Blatt’s savvy about putting different turkey sub-species into the proper habitats similar to their native habitats in the states from whence brood stock was brought years ago.

So why not change the agency? This state’s hunters are not of one mind; many enjoy the reduced numbers of people in the field during fall hunting seasons. They don’t see the “big picture,” however and neither do younger hunters (and anglers), who lack the historical perspective and never experienced “the good old days” of hunting and fishing here. Their shrinking numbers translates to shrinking political clout, and ultimately, that’s going to mean reduced to non-existent management of this state’s game populations.

Right now, there is legislation (Senate Bill 6813) lurking in the Senate Natural Resources Committee that, if adopted and signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire – as she most lilely would with the excuse of trimming the state budget (it won’t, but the public doesn’t understand that) – it would merge the WDFW with the State Parks Department under the Department of Natural Resources.

Want to talk about a disaster? This is the kind of scenario that the late Irwin Allen would have put on film as The Towering Bureaucracy. If hunters think they have little influence now, wait until that mega-agency becomes a reality.

An e-mail alert now being circulated by pro-gun and hunting communities warns, “Every fishing, hunting and related program and every dedicated fund is at risk for termination or reduction.” This alert, originating with the Hunters Heritage Council, notes that “The Senate budget released (Monday) zeroes out the WDFW budget, reduces the agency operating budget by $10.5 million and transfers all WDFW functions to DNR. No proof has been presented that the state ‘saves’ $10.5 million in operating costs by these actions.”

 

“Transfers, administratively, the duties of the governor appointed state parks and recreation commission and the fish and wildlife commission to the department of natural resources.”

The e-mail alert also warns, “Creating another super agency while doing harm to the already existing programs willingly funded by hunters and fishers is not responsible wildlife management.”

There are 22 members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, and they need to hear from hunters and anglers concerned about the future of the resources.

Perhaps instead of merging the WDFW, it ought to be broken up and restored to two separate agencies: Fisheries, which would be tasked solely with managing for commercial and tribal fisheries, and the Department of Fish and Game, whose job it should be to put ten million more trout into our lakes and streams, produce two to five million more steelhead, increase the deer herds by 50,000 and add 10,000 more elk, and that’s just for starters.

Hunters and anglers are being encouraged to contact each member of the Senate Committee and tell them “Do NOT merge WDFW and DNR.”

Senator Margarita Prentice (Chair) – prentice.margarita@leg.wa.gov

Senator Karen Fraser (Vice-Chair, Capital Budget) – fraser.karen@leg.wa.gov

Senator Rodney Tom (Vice Chair, Operating Budget – author of the merger effort) – tom.rodney@leg.wa.gov

Senator Joseph Zarelli (Ranking Minority) – zarelli.joseph@leg.wa.gov

Senator Dale Brandland – brandland.dale@leg.wa.gov

Senator Mike Carrell – carrell.michael@leg.wa.gov

Senator Darlene Fairley – fairley.darlene@leg.wa.gov

Senator Mike Hewitt – hewitt.mike@leg.wa.gov

Senator Steve Hobbs – hobbs.steve@leg.wa.gov

Senator Jim Honeyford – honeyford.jim@leg.wa.gov

Senator Karen Keiser – keiser.karen@leg.wa.gov

Senator Adam Kline – kline.adam@leg.wa.gov

Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles – kohl-welles.jeanne@leg.wa.gov

Senator Joe McDermott – mcdermott.joe@leg.wa.gov

Senator Ed Murray – murray.edward@leg.wa.gov

Senator Eric Oemig – oemig.eric@leg.wa.gov

Senator Linda Evans Parlette – parlette.linda@leg.wa.gov

Senator Cheryl Pflug – pflug.cheryl@leg.wa.gov

Senator Craig Pridemore – pridemore.craig@leg.wa.gov

Senator Debbie Regala – regala.debbie@leg.wa.gov

Senator Phil Rockefeller – rockefeller.phil@leg.wa.gov

Senator Mark Schoesler – schoesler.mark@leg.wa.gov

Outdoorsmen and women can also contact their own senator here.

Original Article Can Be Found Here: http://www.examiner.com/x-4525-Seattle-Gun-Rights-Examiner~y2010m2d24-WA-Senate-bill-would-merge-WDFW-Parks-under-Natural-Resources?cid=examiner-email#

 

 

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