Why It Matters: Washington’s hunters, anglers, and trappers have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays – public benefits” structure, Washington’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales and through excise taxes paid on a variety of hunting, recreational shooting, fishing, and boating sporting goods via the Pittman-Robertson and the Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux Acts (collectively the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program). Washington’s 885,000 sportsmen and women participating in outdoor pursuits of hunting, fishing, and trapping provides vital funding revenue for Washington’s conservation, habitat restoration, and wildlife management efforts.
- Sportsmen and women in the Evergreen State have united behind Senate Bill 5675, a bill which seeks to enhance the existing Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission appointment process.
- Introduced by Senator Lynda Wilson, a member of the Washington Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, SB 5675 would help ensure that qualified candidates are appointed to the WDFW Commission by developing a well-represented nominations committee that would include members of the hunting and fishing community, along with representatives from other conservation interests.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and other partner organizations were at the Capitol in Olympia last week meeting with legislative leaders to request a public hearing on SB 5675.
Abundant wildlife, healthy watersheds and landscapes, and public access to amazing shared resources—the immense public benefits of the successful North American Model for Wildlife Conservation are countless across the Evergreen State. The sustainable management ethic codified by this model ensures the perpetuation of wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation across Washington. As the primary stewards of these resources, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the WDFW Commission are charged with vital management decisions that impact Washington’s fish, wildlife, and the habitats on which they rely. With policy determinations being made that impact these incredible resources and the continued success of conservation efforts in Washington, it’s critical the WDFW Commission is comprised of the most qualified experts.
To help identify qualified candidates for the Governor to consider for appointment to the WDFW Commission, Senator Lynda Wilson, with support from the hunting and angling conservation community, has introduced Senate Bill 5675 (SB 5675). SB 5675, if passed, would enhance the existing WDFW Commission nominations process by establishing a well-represented nominations committee to help ensure the Governor’s office has the best qualified candidates to consider for appointment.
In appointing new Commission members, current law already requires the Governor to “maintain a balance reflecting all aspects of fish and wildlife, including representation recommended by organized groups representing sportfishers, commercial fishers, hunters, private landowners, and environmentalists”. SB 5675 facilitates this process with a diverse nominations committee that includes representatives from the hunting and fishing community, along with members representing other conservation interests. SB 5675 also ensures timely Commission appointments by requiring vacancies to be filled within 90 days and establishes accountability measures for Commissioners not following the current mandates established in law. SB 5675 would also help ensure that science is the driver of fish and wildlife management decisions by requiring Commissioners to demonstrate their decisions are based on peer-reviewed science.
Advocating in support of SB 5675’s goal to create a fair and effective process for Commission appointments, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and additional partner organizations met with legislative leaders in Olympia last week to request a public hearing on the bill, and have also submitted a letter to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks. For the bill to move forward this session, it must receive a public hearing and pass out of committee by February 17th. Contact information for the Senate Committee can be found here.