OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is inviting public comment through Jan. 31 on current proposals to acquire land for fish and wildlife habitat and public recreation.
Thirteen proposed land acquisitions, identified by the department as priorities for potential future funding, are currently available for review. To review the proposed acquisitions, visit WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/acquisitions/. Previous acquisitions and those already under way are not included on the webpage.
Written comments on the proposed acquisitions may be submitted via email to Lands@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Lauri Vigue, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
Clay Sprague, WDFW lands division manager, said the review process is designed to solicit public input on the proposals before the department seeks funding sources later this year.
"The webpage offers an opportunity to take a 'virtual tour' of our land-acquisition proposals, which we will be presenting at the state's annual Land Acquisition Coordinating Forum in March," Sprague said.
The statewide forum brings together state agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations, tribes, landowners and other citizens to share ideas about state land actions for habitat and recreation purposes. More information on the forum is available at http://www.rco.wa.gov/boards/hrlcg.shtml.
WDFW will seek potential funding for the current proposals from state and federal grants administered by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund and the North American Wetland Conservation Act.
Sprague said land acquisition plays an essential role in meeting WDFW's mandate to protect fish and wildlife, while also providing sustainable recreational and commercial opportunities.
"Our first responsibility is to safeguard the future of fish and wildlife in this state," Sprague said. "With suitable habitat for many species in decline, land acquisitions are one tool we have to meet that responsibility."
WDFW currently owns or manages about 900,000 acres in 33 wildlife areas, along with 700 public water-access sites. Those properties provide habitat for fish and wildlife, as well as fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities that contribute significantly to the state's economy each year.
In addition, public wildlife lands provide access to outdoor recreation for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians, Sprague said.