2020 Legislative Session


Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter
I posted this in the Steelhead sub-forum, but think it may reach some interested people here too.
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.

Jonathan Tachell

Active Member
The director of the WDFW was saying that they have been crippled by a lack of funding at a PSA meeting in Tacoma on 1/8/2020. A concerned citizen then asked the director, if we were to double your funding across the board tomorrow would it improve recreational fishing opportunities for salmon, steelhead, crab and change the status quo in the future. The director would not provide an answer to that question in person.

Bottom line is the WDFW is unable to effect change due to the feds and the tribes. The WDFW does not want to put pressure on NOAA because they receive a large amount of federal funding. The tribes are the ones with a permit for fishing salmon in Puget Sound so the WDFW has to appease them in order to have any salmon fishery. The tribes also own the state politicians who give the WDFW marching orders (don't make waves with the tribes).

It is also important to know that currently 40% of the Washington treaty tribes support a lawsuit arguing that the 50% of harvestable fish NI fisherman are entitled too are forfeited due to habitat destruction. This would give the tribes a 100% of the allowable harvest and leave us on the beach.

At the end of the day giving the WDFW more money will not change a thing in regards to salmon, steelhead and crab management.

Phil Fravel

This might sound insane? I have bought 5 license for myself and family and friends who could not afford licenses for years. Are we at the point now where we should not buy one at all and take the ticket? Or perhaps if we as a sportsmans comunity waited a month or 2 before purchasing just to show solidarity. Or perhaps only buy day passes for the days we fish.

There is no way we as a group can compete with casino $$.


Active Member
This might sound insane? I have bought 5 license for myself and family and friends who could not afford licenses for years. Are we at the point now where we should not buy one at all and take the ticket? Or perhaps if we as a sportsmans comunity waited a month or 2 before purchasing just to show solidarity. Or perhaps only buy day passes for the days we fish.

There is no way we as a group can compete with casino $$.
Years ago a friend was fed up with the wdfw. He hasnt purchased a license in about 15 yrs and fishes quite often. He hasnt seen a warden in years. We stopped calling him slanderous names and he quit calling us suckers. I think he made the right decision to not support a govt agency that doesnt support him.

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