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Legislative Wrap-up

Salmon Net Pen Ban Won!

Washington’s fin fish net pen ban is on the Governor’s desk for signature after a roller coaster legislative effort by Olympic Peninsula conservation groups and elected representatives. See article below.

OFCO President Connie Gallant with Rep. Mike Chapman
celebrating good news

Marbled Murrelet Protections and
Rural Communities Legislation Wins

Rep. Mike Chapman sponsored a bill, HB 2285 – 2017-18, to support protections for Marbled Murrelets and implementation of the Endangered Species Act, through reporting on economic impacts to rural communities. The bill asks the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to report to the Legislature on possible economic impacts and solutions for revenue losses related to conservation. DNR will establish an advisory committee to work with local government, conservation groups, and timber community stakeholders to find solutions for conservation and revenues for basic services funded by state-managed timber revenues to trustees. The bill supports Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz’s “Solutions Table” process. OFCO and the Marbled Murrelet Survival Coalition asked CPL Franz to consider developing other sources of revenue for essential services impacted by conservation through a multi-stakeholder process, especially protecting essential services. The Coalition members, Washington Environmental Council (WEC), Washington Forest Law Center (WFLC), Audubon chapters, Conservation Northwest (CNW), Defenders of Wildlife, and grassroots conservation groups like OFCO, worked hard to turn out calls and comments to legislators to help shape the bill. Governor Inslee has signed the bill into law.

Of concern, Sen. Kevin Van De Wege submitted a budget proviso late in the session that, if passed, would have circumvented the several years’ process to develop the Long-Term Conservation Strategy for Marbled Murrelets underway by DNR. The Strategy is a requirement of the “incidental take permit” issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife for the state-managed timber harvests. The proviso asked that “Alternative B,” the most timber harvest and least protections for Marbled Murrelets, be brought forward as a “preferred alternative,” even after the Board of Natural Resources chose a different preferred alternative. Efforts by the conservation community to show concern over the constitutionality of the proviso, and its one-sided promotion of the timber industry interests over conservation, succeeded in stopping the effect of the proviso in the budget process. Lawyers Peter Goldman of the Washington Forest Law Center, assisted by Wyatt Golding of Chestnut Ziontz, drafted the legal analysis on the budget proviso constitutionality, which helped decision makers shift the emphasis, and may help in the future if back-door budget efforts are used again to weaken conservation efforts. WEC and CNW staffers worked tirelessly to provide information.

Great appreciation to Rep. Chapman, OFCO members for their calls and comments, and WEC, CNW and WFLC for their leadership on saving the Marbled Murrelet and OP rural communities.

Gray Wolf (Canis Lupus) ~Western Wildlife Outreach

Cascade Wolf Transfers to the OP Stopped—for Now

Rep. Kretz, 7th District (Eastern Washington), sponsored a bill in the House that called for the preparation of a plan to capture and translocate wolves from Eastern Washington to the Olympic Peninsula/Southwest Washington recovery area, undermining the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan which was adopted by the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in 2011. Lorna Smith, OFCO Vice President and Executive Director of Western Wildlife Outreach, said, “According to WDFW biologists, gray wolf recovery is on track as called for in the Wolf Plan. The adopted plan is science based and peer reviewed. The plan population and recovery model projects that wolves will move naturally onto the Olympic Peninsula. This bill would cause disruptions to Washington’s wolf population and put translocated wolves at risk. Wolves moved from their home range and habitat are more likely to get into trouble because they don’t know the area and are not part of a pack. Many translocated wolves attempt to return to their former territories. Whereas wolf translocation was successfully used in the recovery of Yellowstone wolves, it was employed only after natural dispersal from packs in Canada did not work. OFCO members and supporters are concerned about the translocation project before natural dispersal is given a chance. While the bill did not pass, some of the language was lifted and included as a budget proviso which DID pass. The proviso requires a SEPA study on the translocation proposal, without the proposal being vetted by established procedures for modifying the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, ignoring the science. OFCO is tracking developments.”

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