2020 Legislative Session


Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter
The session begins today. WDFW has a supplemental budget request before the Legislature, and Gov. Inslee has sent them a proposal to increase hunting and fishing license fees. I have my opinions on the matter, and you probably have yours. I urge you all to contact your district Senator and Representatives and also the members of the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources, and Parks Committee that will hear and vote on the request. I plan to hit them every two weeks through the session since there is a lot on the agenda competing for their attention. You might want to do the same.

Here's my concise letter; feel free to copy & paste if it suits you too.

Dear Senator,

Recreational angling in Washington State is important. I am writing in regard to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) supplemental budget request and how poorly it fits with the Department’s treatment of sport fishing. WDFW is requesting a supplemental budget appropriation of $26 million to “fully fund” Department functions and activities. I support only $2.5 million of this request, to be explained below.

Unfortunately the Department is in a state of dysfunction. Since 2015 it has been proving that fisheries co-management with the treaty tribes is broken. Co-management is successful only when both parties share equal power in negotiations. The Department piggy-backs on the tribal-Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Section 7 Endangered Species Act (ESA) permit that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approves. This gives the tribes disproportionate power during co-manager negotiations. In order to be included in this permit the Department caves to every tribal demand regarding sport fishing seasons. The Department isn’t working and can’t work for sport fishers unless and until it secures a discreet ESA permit instead of piggy-backing on the tribal permit.

WDFW closes recreational angling when treaty tribes demand it because without that ESA permit, there would be no non-treaty fishing in Puget Sound or its tributary rivers. Recent examples include closures on the Skagit, Stillaguamish, and Green,Rivers and Lake Washington. The Department has claimed the closures were necessary for salmon conservation, but investigation reveals that tribal coercion is the cause. I do not oppose treaty tribal fishing, but at less than 2% of Washington State’s population, the tail should not wag the dog. The Department must get its own ESA permit.

Governor Inslee has proposed that you raise hunting and fishing license fees this session. Under the present circumstances of the Department reducing sport fishing opportunity, such increases are not appropriate, and I oppose the Governor’s request.

I mentioned that I support $2.5 million of WDFW’s supplemental request. That increment is for fishery monitoring. NMFS requires monitoring where fishing seasons overlap the presence of ESA-listed fish. Absent the monitoring, WDFW will simply close even more recreational angling opportunity. Therefore, the $2.5 million is essential just to maintain existing angling opportunities for Washington’s recreational angling community.

Thank you for your attention to this issue during a short session crowded with many issues of importance to Washington’s citizens.



As you were probably expecting from me, here's an alternate take, one that 45 local fishing, hunting, conservation and outdoor recreation leaders expressed in a joint letter to state lawmakers today.

Because, to put it simply, continued under-funding isn't going to solve any of the issues you raise. Or the many other conservation and fishing/hunting challenges WA faces today. It will make them far worse.

More: http://nwsportsmanmag.com/groups-urge-washington-lawmakers-to-tap-general-fund-for-wdfw

And an action form for easily contacting lawmakers: https://actnow.io/gQwMmnu

Stakeholders call for legislature to fully-fund Department of Fish and Wildlife

45 local leaders representing the conservation, fishing, hunting and recreation communities are calling on the legislature to fully-fund WDFW’s 2020 budget request through $26 million from the General Fund.

Today, a set of diverse organizations representing hunters and anglers, wildlife advocates, and outdoor recreation interests called on the Washington State Legislature to appropriate all of the $26 million in operating funds requested for the coming fiscal year by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in the upcoming session. This is substantially more than what Governor Inslee included in his budget request, which contains just $15.6 million in general operating funds for WDFW, though the Governor’s budget also includes $8.2 million that would accrue in the unlikely event that a bill passed to increase certain hunting and fishing license fees.

Many of these same groups worked last year in favor of the Legislature appropriating $45 million in biennial operating funds (plus $17 million from a license fee increase bill that did not pass), of which a mere $24 million was provided onetime, rather than ongoing. Greater funding is needed to preserve and restore the Evergreen State’s fish and wildlife heritage, especially given growing challenges ranging from salmon and orca recovery to elk hoof disease, habitat loss and wolf management.

If the Legislature were to fund the entire $26 million requested today, the total $50 million bump for this biennium would allow the agency to continue its existing level of service—providing recreational and commercial opportunities for Washingtonians while stewarding our state’s fish, wildlife and the habitat they depend on. This basic level of service has been put at significant risk by a structural deficit in the Department’s budget, where ongoing costs (like mandated payroll increases, Endangered Species Act requirements, and demand for outdoor opportunity from the state’s growing population) have been funded for only the initial year by onetime money. The costs continue in later years. This exacerbates an agency budget that is still not restored from cuts dating to the 2008 recession. This deficit grows each biennium as onetime solutions temporarily fill the gap, only to expire and leave a larger hole.

In 2017, the Legislature challenged the Department to find savings, requiring it to submit to evaluation by an outside management consultant, undertake a zero-based budget exercise, and assemble a citizen advisory group to identify areas for budget cuts. That citizen advisory group, the Budget and Policy Advisory Group (BPAG), seeing what damage such cuts would cause, coalesced in support of the Department’s mission and in favor of it being sufficiently funded to succeed. This statement from leaders of diverse WDFW stakeholder groups reinforces that demand.

The case for fully-funding WDFW remains evident. Not only are Washington’s wildlife and ecosystems critical to our quality of life, they are under increasing pressure from our state’s burgeoning population and increasing development. WDFW is the agency primarily tasked with sustaining our state’s priceless natural heritage against these threats.

Leaders from the outdoor, sportsmen, and conservation communities are calling on the legislature to fully-fund WDFW’s 2020 budget request through a $26 million appropriation from the General Fund.


Active Member
Seems to me given the growing population and associated pollution and threats from exploitation we should be increasing research into our fisheries to promote and protect the resource for all of us


Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter

Again we agree to disagree. Fully funding WDFW will convince them that staying the course of status quo of charging us more money for less recreational opportunity is the best alternative. Best alternative for WDFW that is, not for sport fishermen.



Active Member
My letters will be focusing on a different aspect of the problems the management of the state natural resources is facing. DavidJP is on to an important issue - human population and the pressure that puts on the natural resources.

It took 50 years from Lewis and Clark expedition for Washington non-treaty population to reach 10,000 people. By statehood (Nov. 1889) the population had grown to 350,000. It was not until the 1910 census that the population exceeded 1 million. It took 40 years to add the next million to the population. The next 20 years (1950 to 1970) another million was added. Over the next 20 years (1970 to 1990) 1.4 million were added. The nest 20 years (1990 to 2010) 1.8 million were added. It looks like that growth is continuing with approximately another million in population growth this last decade.

It should be obvious to all that sort of increase human population has and is putting intense pressure on the natural environment and the critters that environment supports; including such iconic species as steelhead (state fish), Chinook salmon and the orcas. If that environment and critters are important to the people of the state is critical that the State through its general funding continues to support the protection and management of the State's natural resources at least historic levels (per cent of the total general fund). In fact given the much of the population growth has been in urban areas and the portion of the population that hunts or fish (license buyers) is decreasing the to continue to fund resource agencies such as WDFW the portion of the general fund dedicated to the agency needs to increase.


Rob Allen

Active Member

Again we agree to disagree. Fully funding WDFW will convince them that staying the course of status quo of charging us more money for less recreational opportunity is the best alternative. Best alternative for WDFW that is, not for sport fishermen.


That's how i feel about all government agencies.

Bryce Levin

Active Member
I am frustrated with WDFW and how they manage our resources and hunting and fishing opportunities, their lack of transparency over the past few years with the NOF meetings, and what appears to be an inability to adapt and make changes.

As much as I wish that they weren't funded and a message could be sent, I don't think not funding WDFW is going to lead to outcomes better than what we are seeing today. It will lead to poorer management of fish and wildlife and less opportunity for hunting and fishing.

Some examples of what the budget cut would do here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/administration/budget/update#at-risk-services

-Hatchery trout and salmon production decreases
- decreases in monitoring salmon and steelhead fisheries,
- $924,000 lost for Columbia River pinniped predation management
- $837,000 for restructuring gill net fisheries on the Columbia.

Maybe it is because I am 31 and haven't had a lifetime of watching poor management and opportunities slip away. But I am not ready to stick it to WDFW in the form losing the resources above plus other unforeseen consequences. I think many of the effects will leave a lasting impact on our resources and I have seen what happens to fisheries once they get closed in WA... they often do not reopen. Maybe I will regret this 10-15 years from now, but for now I think this is the lesser of two evils. $.02 from a left leaning fisherman with too much faith in government still.
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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
I am frustrated with WDFW and how they manage our resources and hunting and fishing opportunities, their lack of transparency over the past few years with the NOF meetings, and what appears to be an inability to adapt and make changes.

Speaking of dog and pony shows, we are about 6 weeks out from when the first NOF meetings should be taking place (Feb 26th last year), yet still no meeting schedules have been posted.
Maybe WDFW thinks people will just give up or forget about NOF so they can continue to negotiate behind closed doors on your behalf.......
We all know how that has been working out in recent years.


Active Member
I called my Senator on this issue and asked him to Oppose Senate Bill 5412 the fuel initiative that would tack on another 15-20 cents per gallon.
The Fact is they just can’t handle the money we give them now. Why give them more ?

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