OUTDOORS: WDFW budget woes could be forestalled in future

WITH A $31 million funding gap looming for the upcoming 2019-21 budget biennieum, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has submitted a budget to Gov. Jay Inslee that would close that gap and make $29 million more in targeted investments.

Reasons for the shortfall include less state funding from general taxes and decreased license sales not matching the increasing costs of managing fish, wildlife and habit; the expiration of one-time funding patches and deep cuts imposed during the economic recession.

Searching through the budget proposal, readers can find an investment-heavy proposal that could potentially improve law enforcement/retention capabilities on the West End, a crucial facilities maintenance request for an area hatchery and $50,000 to put in a toilet and (hopefully) stop some bad actors from leaving the worst kind of messes on the Duckabush tideflats.

Expect more soon on those requests.

But when these state funding woes have been answered, an opportunity for future stable federal funding exists in the form of a bipartisan bill in both houses of Congress.

And existing energy development and mining operations on federal lands would be used to provide our state with more than $25 million annually.

House Resolution 4647, also known as the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, proposes that Congress authorize $1.3 billion annually from those sources to the existing Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife.

It had more than 110 sponsors in the House of Representatives as of last summer and is backed by conservation groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

A similar Senate bill, (S. 3223) which sets that $1.3 billion as a goal not a guarantee, was introduced in July, and will be discussed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in Washington D.C. today at 10 a.m.

This solution would help fund each state’s federally mandated wildlife action plan. In those plans, state agencies have identified some 8,000 animal species of “greatest conservation need.” To implement those plans and keep species from sliding toward extinction, each state would need an average of $26 million a year—a total of $1.3 billion.

But current federal spending for state and tribal wildlife grants falls far short of the mark, ranging from about $50 million to $90 million annually, some $1.2 billion short of the mark.

Look into the legislation and contact your senate and house representatives if you are concerned with stabilizing funding for wildlife conservation at the state level.

Neither Rep. Derek Kilmer or Sen. Patty Murray or Sen. Maria Cantwell are on board as sponsors so far.

Green crabs tonight

The effort to study and trap invasive green crabs will be discussed at tonight’s meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

Lorenz Sollman serves as deputy project leader on the initiative for the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

The meeting will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave. in Sequim.

Telling fish stories and viewing raffle prizes begins at 6:30 p.m., with Sollman’s presentation following at 7 p.m. A short business meeting will follow, including financial, government relations reports, upcoming event discussions and fishing reports from members.

Refreshments will be served, a raffle of fishing gear will be held and a membership drawing for those in attendance also are planned.

The public is welcome to attend.

Winterfest Saturday

An annual fundraiser to support winter sports education at Hurricane Ridge, Winterfest kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

The event features a prime rib dinner prepared by Kokopelli Grill and Coyote BBQ and appetizers by Country Aire Natural Foods, live and silent auctions, music by Bill, Rudy and Rachael and VideOlympics, a series of short films featuring area skiers and snowboarders at Hurricane Ridge completed for a film festival.

Contributions are tax deductible and proceeds support capital improvements to the ski area at the ridge, as well as youth scholarships toward learning how to ski, snowboard or participate on ski team.

Tickets are $65 in advance and $80 at the door.

Community tables for eight are $500. Individual and community table tickets can be purchased online at www.hurricaneridge.com.

For more information, email [email protected]

Fly fishers to meet

The next meeting of the Sequim Greywolf Fly Fishers is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Sequim Masonic Lodge, 700 S. Fifth Ave. There will be a brief business meeting followed by fishing reports on area lakes and favorite flies that successfully catch fish. The group also will discuss the 2019 group meetings and activities.

The remainder of the meeting is reserved for individual fly-tying. Participants may tie a fly of their choice (bring fly-tying equipment and materials) or observe this month’s tying event.

There will also be a fly raffle and discussion about recent fishing adventures.

For information, call Erik Simpson at 360-683-6684.

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