Call on state legislators to fund Washington’s wildlife

Call on state legislators to fund Washington’s wildlife

ConservationNWAdmin / Jan 11, 2019 / Restoring Wildlife, WDFW, WILD NW Action Alert

WILD NW Action Alert #285: Contact legislators and urge them to fully fund the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Washington has some of America’s most diverse fish and wildlife—from orcas and salmon to grizzly bears and fishers. But the Evergreen State hasn’t been adequately funding its Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for it to accomplish its important mission:

To preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

Please help ensure Washington’s wildlife get the funding they need by contacting state lawmakers

A Canada lynx, one of the Pacific Northwest’s rarest creatures and a key species we work with the state to protect and restore. Photo: John Alves

We’ve long worked with WDFW to ensure our state’s full wildlife heritage is appropriately conserved and restored. This includes popular “game” species such as deer and elk, but just as importantly, rare and endangered wildlife like Canada lynx that help make our wild ecosystems whole and healthy, enliven our outdoor experiences and contribute to our Pacific Northwest quality of life.

Through WDFW’s Budget and Policy Advisory Group (BPAG), we’ve joined with other wildlife stakeholders to review the Department’s budget and provide recommendations for more stable funding and equitable wildlife conservation.

While Governor Jay Inslee did propose some of the BPAG’s recommendations to better fund wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, more is needed.

We’re urging state senators and representatives, especially budget leaders, to fill this gap and include full funding for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the 2019-21 operating budget to meet the needs of Washington’s wildlife heritage.

Whether one is a wildlife watcher or a hunter, a hiker or an angler, or all of the above, the natural heritage this state agency works so hard to sustain is vital to who we are as Washingtonians. We must give it the resources that enable it to succeed, perpetually.

Please contact your legislators TODAY and urge them to fully fund WDFW!

 

Suggested comments for legislators on wildlife funding

Please use our simple form to contact legislators, or look up your elected officials here and copy the below comments. Feel free to revise or add your own perspectives on why fish and wildlife funding is important!

Dear Senator / Representative,

As someone who cares deeply about protecting our precious wildlife heritage and other natural resources, I am writing to urge you to support full funding of the budget request made by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This full funding, in excess of what the Governor included in his budget proposal, is essential.

WDFW plays a critical role in conserving the state’s fish and wildlife resources and providing sustainable fish and wildlife-related opportunities. On top of an existing budget shortfall, population growth and environmental pressures are making it even more difficult for the Department to address all aspects of its important mission.

In 2017, the Legislature directed WDFW to look for efficiencies, assess its effectiveness and develop a long-term revenue plan. An independent assessment found that the WDFW is employing best practices in structure and staffing, and did not reveal any major cost savings to be found from improving efficiency. WDFW’s Budget and Policy Advisory Group (BPAG), which includes a broad set of conservation, hunting and angling, outdoor recreation and other organizations and businesses, has also reviewed the Department’s budget and operations and backs increased funding for the agency, supporting the fulfillment of its vital mission for our state’s wildlife heritage.

The vital work of WDFW pays for itself. When I travel the state enjoying our wildlife, I spend money. This is how dollars flow from our wealthy urban centers out to the wilder regions of the state, and from there back to Olympia in sales taxes. For every general-fund dollar the Legislature spent on WDFW over the past biennium, almost $3.50 came back in tax revenue.

Thankfully, the Governor’s proposed budget included much of the Department’s request. But where it fell short was noteworthy and unacceptable, as it left out almost all of the $12.9 million requested to enhance fish and wildlife conservation and $4.2 million for habitat improvements. These investments are essential, as the WDFW budget already shows great inequity in how it treats biodiversity and outdoor recreation, with these comprising under 4 percent of expenditures.

It’s time to give our state’s natural resources the level of care and investment they deserve, so that Washington may remain a place of great natural beauty and support lifestyles where people engage with and appreciate nature.

Thank you.

 

More information on WDFW’s 2019-21 Operating Budget request is available here. Read more about the BPAG process and the growing challenge facing our state’s wildlife agency in this blog from Mitch Friedman, our Executive Director.
Washington’s threatened wildlife, such as bighorn sheep, need greater funding for conservation. Fully funding WDFW will also benefit our public lands and outdoor recreation, and the communities and economies they support. Photo: Phototropic