Over the past couple of years, all the work and effort to educate those in our state including anglers, legislators and general public as to the state of our fisheries here in Washington and the need to regain wild fish in those rivers where it might be possible we go and just get taken out at the knees, or maybe it is the head. Read below:
Yesterday morning I got a call as our representative stepped out to call me to tell me this great news.
At 7:20 the 2011 Washington Legislature adjourned for the year but not before passing an unprecedented jobs package that provided over $65,000,000 dollars for hatchery infrastructure, fish passage and access in Puget Sound. On the first day of the 2011 legislative session Our FishNW, NSIA, CCA, and PSA representatives testified in front of the Capitol Budget Committees in both houses and stressed the importance of investing in our state hatcheries as a vehicle for jobs creation in local communities. They pointed out that unlike social programs the state would create jobs in the local construction industries and at a staffing level that would result in increased angler participation for all user groups and grow the states’ tax base. These efforts were rewarded because we had bipartisan support for our efforts. Unlike most issues where a single majority vote is required for passage expenditures require a two thirds majority for passage.
This is an incredible success. In a budget climate where agencies and programs were being eliminated because of revenue shortfalls they were able convince legislators that jobs creation and not additional taxes was the correct approach to increase state revenues. Daily discussions with House Capitol Budgets Chairman, Han Dunshee, Derek Kilmer, Chair of Senate Capitol Budgets and ranking minority member Linda Evans Parlette convinced them to champion our specific recommendations through the legislative process.
We cannot overstate the importance of the political implications of this victory. First, it communicates to WDFW senior staff and the commission that we (recreational industry and fishing organizations) can accomplish what the agency is unable to do on their own. This did not go unnoticed with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Commission. Our representative will be giving them a full testimony on this monumental bill.
The WDFW director, Phil Anderson, expressed his gratitude and thanks on behalf of the department for what we had been able to accomplish. This achievement validates the importance of our financial commitment to ongoing participation in the political process. By continuing to grow our political influence we will increasingly play major roles in creation of the states’ natural resources policies. The director understands the political implications of this achievement.
In our talks with legislators we continually emphasized the importance in investing in specific locations that would result in the biggest bang for the buck. Improving hatcheries in metropolitan Puget Sound would provide would encourage more participation because of location and easy access. We can hardly wait to see the new boat ramp at Point No Point (this ramp was included in this bill). This is a major victory!!!
Our hatcheries and our hatchery systems/fish passages have not been kept up and are in dire need of repair. Washington state used to be the Salmon Capital of the world. We need to return it to that and this is the first step.
This is what your local fishing organizations do for you. When we work together we can move mountains-we just did. By having a collective voice and working together, we are being heard. We were looking at some very drastic cuts and there still will be in other areas of our fisheries, such as funding cuts by NOAA for WDFW. But by us working together we can work on finding funding to keep our fisheries alive for our kids and grandkids, while helping to not only maintain our economy but to grow it.
I am still amazed we pulled this off! Our key legislators Hans Dunshee, Derek Kilmer, and Linda Evans Parlette were the true champions for us. We owe them a huge thank you.
Puget Sound Anglers
FishNW Board of Directors
Of all the places where money needs to go in this poor state, somehow, someone made people believe that putting money into the hatchery programs here in WA would create jobs. Yes to some degree I guess it will but how many and for how long? I don’t get it, I do because I know how stupid so many people are but at the same time I don’t.
If employment was REALLY on their minds, they would have made sure our fisheries never needed the hatcheries in the first place. They would have seen the intrinsic value to healthy rivers long ago and take the measures to protect, nurture and care for them but they didn’t and we haven’t.
If employment was really on their minds, fishing licenses would be $200 for out of state anglers, maybe more with a lottery system for a half dozen rivers in the state regulating how many can be on a river at any given time.
If they cared about employment guides would be managed not only by WDFW but also Forest Service, National Park, BLM and any other agency that has a play in Washington fisheries. Guide licenses would also require special permitting on particular rivers which would give legitimate value to our businesses. For instance, a level A permit on the Gunnison River in Colorado is worth about a $750,000 at this time. With all the quality water we could have right here in WA, right now there could be several of our guide services here that would employ a large number of people, from OUR state, legally. At this point, I have seen guides on various rivers in Washington whom are not on the list of having purchased a guide license for this state from the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, California, Michigan, Ohio, New York and how about this one, Washington!
If they really cared about employment in Washington, they would put that money into hiring enough enforcement officers to kick all the illegal guiding assholes out of here and make those who are going to hire a guide, hire a legitimate and legal guide from Washington. One who has the proper business licenses from city, county and state, has insurance (although not required by our lovely state) and an actual Washington guide license.
By not respecting our watersheds over the past 50-100 years and valuing what they could being into Washington as far as revenue for local businesses, Washington has show they don’t care about employment. If they really did, then we wouldn’t lose most of our fishing revenue to Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia where categorically the fishing is exponentially better the second you cross the border. If Washington had done so, Washington today would be the epicenter of where those who pursue anadromous fish would migrate to, sadly it is not the case with one very small exception, and the pressure on that region will eventually up the tally of yet another mismanaged fishery where had we really cared, we would have done better for it.
I guess there might be a chance that this money will do some good but I won’t be surprised when it ends up put against the work that has been done to protect wild fish, steelhead in particular, doesn’t improve our enforcement on the rivers and any science created by it is skewed to work in the favor of those who just need to kill a fish.
Not a celebration in my book, just time to put the gloves back on and get back in the ring.