A salmon. File photo

A salmon. File photo

State Fish and Wildlife seeks $60 million in funding

The department is facing a $33 million shortfall and also hopes to secure future funding.

The Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife has a plan to make up a $32.9 million deficit in its biennial budget.

The department held a webinar on July 23 with policy director Nate Pamplin who said the deficit stemmed from three major areas including several one-time funding patches expiring, state funding from general taxes and license sales not keeping pace with costs and the deep budget cuts imposed during the recession. State license fees have not been adjusted since 2011.

The 2019-21 budget shortfall is largely due to the one-time payments not occurring again, which included a $10 million allocation for the current biennium. Around $50 million was lost in the 2011-13 biennium stemming from the recession. In 2017 the state Legislature directed the department to find efficiencies in its current operations and develop a long-term funding plan.

An independent consultant hired by the department found its management practices did not contribute to the funding problem but did identify $3 million in spending cuts that will be enacted over the next year that include reducing fish stocking, reducing habitat restoration and grants to volunteer organizations.

Included in this was a proposal to shut down trough hatching operations at the Naches Hatchery and moving it to other hatcheries. IT staff will be made more efficient and habitat monitoring and restoration will be cut.

On top of the $33 million deficit, the department is also asking for an additional $30 million to secure funding for future operations too. This includes $14.7 million for conservation investments into programs like salmon recovery, watershed health, biodiversity and conservation enforcement, $5.6 million to expand fishing opportunities and hatchery improvements, $3.5 million for hunting enhancements including improving law enforcement and access and a to-be-determined amount for orca recovery.

In total, the department needs around $60 million to avoid deep budget cuts and to continue making investments. Around two-thirds of the funding is being requested from the state’s general fund while license fees would make up the remaining third.

Two options are being considered for increasing recreational license fees. One would levy up to a 15 percent increase on all licenses and the other would charge a $10 fee per customer annually, or a $3 temporary fee.

Pamplin said if fees were adjusted annually to reflect cost, they would be 23 percent higher now than they were in 2011. The fees were proposed with concerns about pricing an already dropping number of hunters and anglers out of the market.

More in News

King County jail lost water 16 times since 2018

The building has been plagued with water failures stemming from Aquatherm pipes.

Inmate who escaped from work crew found in Kirkland

Man was convicted on theft and stolen property charges.

Attendees take a closer look at the new Eastrail logo and tagline, “Let’s Connect” on July 20 in Redmond. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
East Rail Corridor is now Eastrail

Eastrail will be an uninterrupted 42-mile trail connected to Link light rail opening on the Eastside in 2023.

Low Income Housing Institute’s 57-unit August Wilson Place apartments in downtown Bellevue includes affordable housing units for households at 30, 50 and 60 percent of the area median income. Photo courtesy of Low Income Housing Institute
Economic growth continues for King County

Warning signs on horizon as housing and rent prices cool down compared to previous years.

Suspect arrested for Kirkland Key Bank robbery needed money for rent

Media outlets led police to man’s identification.

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.

Siri Bliesner, Susan Wilkins and John Towers compete for Lake Washington School District Director District 5 position. Courtesy photos
Three candidates aim to fill an open seat on the Lake Washington School Board

Siri Bliesner, John Towers and Susan Wilkins compete for Lake Washington School District Director District 5 position.

Kirkland resident Elizabeth Standal holds broken heart at the Lights for Liberty Vigil on July 12. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Lights for Liberty Vigil in Kirkland protests conditions of migrant camps

The Kol Ami congregation gathered July 12 for the Lights for Liberty Vigil, calling for an end “human concentration camps.”

Most Read