Habitat - Land Management
Date Published: July 2005
Number of Pages: 42
The Lands 20/20 initiative was led by an interdisciplinary team of Department staff working from a comprehensive list of policies, practices, and science-based tools and plans. Based on their efforts, a smaller policy group worked with external stakeholders to craft the Lands 20/ 20 vision for agency lands. That vision is summarized below, and explored in-depth on subsequent pages.
Lands for Fish and Wildlife and the Citizens of Washington I am pleased to present to you Lands 20/20: A Vision For The Future. It is an opportunity to share with you our fish and wildlife values, how those values are reflected in the unique portfolio of lands owned or managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department), and how we make decisions about acquiring new lands.
Land acquisition is one of the tools used by the Department to conserve Washington’s fish and wildlife and provide related recreational opportunities. This tool carries with it responsibilities and costs, and can only occur successfully with the support of our citizens. As our understanding of fish and wildlife values grows, and the number of entities working to preserve those values increases, it has become ever more important for the Department to clearly articulate its unique role through an overarching lands vision.
Our land legacy began in 1939 when hunters, fishers, and my predecessors recognized that some places were special for fish and wildlife and wildlife recreation, and should be permanently protected in public ownership. That recognition led to our first acquisition, an 80-acre parcel for mule deer in Okanogan County.
Today, almost 70 years and hundreds of acquisitions later, it is clear that the lands portfolio is one of our most successful conservation accomplishments. This portfolio includes over 800,000 acres owned or managed as part of the Department’s Wildlife Areas and more than 600 water access sites that are public portals to lakes, rivers and marine areas. Although my Department’s ownership of land represents only 1.3% of all the land in the state, these lands are vital to maintaining our rich and diverse wildlife heritage. Hundreds of thousands of people visit these lands each year to recreate and enjoy the wildlife opportunities they provide, contributing to a $2 billion wildlife-related recreation industry in Washington.
Whenever we are asked to make decisions about acquisitions, my Department brings the best available science to the decision-making process and offers alternatives when we can. The public, however, will make the ultimate decisions about future fish and wildlife conservation or recreation acquisitions. These decisions will be based on what we are willing to risk, and what we all want to pass on to our children. Where we go from here will be up to all of us.
Jeff Koenings, Ph.D.