Support State Fish and Wildlife Funding
For years, Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has faced a significant budget shortfall of more than $31 million. Sixty million was requested last legislative session to fill the gap and provide improved services and innovative conservation programs.
Sadly, last year’s 2019-20 Operating Budget included only a $24 million “increase” for WDFW; $7 million short of filling the funding gap and less than half of what’s needed for the agency to meet the demands of Washingtonians for our outdoor heritage. Lawmakers also increased payroll expenses at state agencies, adding another $13 million to the department’s budget need this biennium.
WDFW faces an approximately $20 million budget shortfall going into the 2020 supplemental session of the state legislature, and that is just to provide basic services. The agency is requesting $26 million from the General Fund to support the Evergreen State’s fish, wildlife, habitat and public lands.
The impact of under-funding means that threatened species and habitats most in need of attention will face further cuts. Sharp-tailed Grouse, lynx, steelhead and other native species covered by State Wildlife Action Plans need more resources, not less.
Please send state lawmakers a message that fully-funding our fish and wildlife must be a priority during the upcoming 2020 legislative session. The District Finder will link you to your state legislators.
Protect Washington’s Rivers From Suction Dredge Mining
Vancouver Audubon Society’s Board of Directors has voted to support HB 1261 and SB 5322 to protect water quality and fish habitat from motorized suction dredge mining.
Washington’s lawmakers are considering this important bill to protect the state’s rivers and streams in the 2020 Legislative session. Now is the time to speak up and demand clean water for people and wildlife.
Suction dredging, which mines for gold using gas-powered machines that vacuum up gravel and sand from river bottoms, pollutes rivers by digging up sediment and reintroducing mercury from historic mining. It also damages streambeds that are essential to spawning salmon and steelhead. Scientific studies show suction dredge mining degrades water quality through erosion and sedimentation, physically “processes” fish and aquatic life, creates fish stranding risks, and denudes riparian vegetation. The impact to our rivers and streams and endangered fish populations is significant and directly contradicts our significant investment in salmon habitat and river restoration.
The law would require suction dredge miners to comply with the Clean Water Act and obtain a water-quality permit before heading into any stream or river. Right now there’s little oversight, undermining hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent on fish habitat restoration.
These bills are supported by a diverse coalition including recreation, conservation, academic, environmental, business, and tribal interests from all parts of Washington state.
Neighboring states have already cracked down on this destructive mining practice. Tell your elected officials to do the same and protect Washington’s rivers by supporting this legislation.
Find your legislative district https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/ The District Finder will link you to your state legislators.