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Fish and Wildlife Commission to decide on land transaction, black bear timber damage, and several rule-making petitions; vote for chair and vice chair at Dec. 14-16 meeting

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to hear updates on a variety of topics during its Dec. 14-16 webinar, including decisions on land transactions, black bear timber damage rule making, three public petitions, and their internal Rules of Procedure.

The Commission kicks off work Thursday at 8 a.m. with meetings of its Big Tent and Habitat committees to discuss the Commission’s draft Conservation Policy, Lands 20/20, and a Washington Shrubsteppe Restoration and Resiliency Initiative.

Beginning on Thursday at 1 p.m., the Fish Committee will receive a briefing on Lake Roosevelt sturgeon, an update on the 2023-2024 coastal steelhead fishing regulations, a North of Falcon policy briefing, and a Lake Whatcom briefing. At 3 p.m., the Wildlife Committee will discuss Species of Greatest Conservation Need criteria, sea duck management and monitoring, and Game Management Plan updates.

The Commission meeting continues Friday with an opportunity for open public input, followed by a report from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind.

The Commission will take comments and decide on a proposed 530-acre land transaction at Chapman Lake in Spokane County that would provide public access and recreation. WDFW staff will also brief the Commission on 20 proposed projects being considered under WDFW’s Lands 20/20 process, which considers species and habitat management plans, regional conservation initiatives, community perspectives, and outdoor recreation potential. The presentation will include a summary and review of comments received during a recent public input period.

On Friday afternoon, commissioners will vote on a proposed rule change to revise how the Department issues black bear timber damage depredation permits. Then, commissioners will hear a briefing and public comment on the North of Falcon Policy.

The Commission will close Friday with decisions on three public petitions related to amending a fishing season on Deer Lake in Stevens County, initiating rule making for recreational spring black bear hunting season, and initiating rule making to amend black bear and cougar hunting seasons.

The Commission meeting resumes Saturday with open public input followed by a potential decision to adopt their Rules of Procedure, which guides their internal operations. The Commission will elect a chair and vice-chair, followed by a decision to hire an executive assistant. The meeting will conclude with a meeting debrief and future meeting planning.

The December meeting will be virtual, with public attendance available via Zoom webinar. The meeting will be recorded and posted online so people can watch afterwards at their convenience. For more information about attending, please view the meeting agenda online.

Visit the WDFW webpage for information on how to register to submit testimony virtually. Registration deadlines are in effect for public input opportunities throughout the meeting. All members of the public are invited to share their perspective and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, veteran status, or basis of disability.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the WDFW. WDFW works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.