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Author Topic: Washington Archery Coalition position on SB 5127  (Read 167 times)

Offline Dale Sharp

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Washington Archery Coalition position on SB 5127
« on: March 17, 2009, 11:32:00 AM »
ACTION ALERT from the Washington Archery Coalition:

My Fellow Outdoors Enthusiast,

It has become evident over the course of the past ten days that a potentially devastating attack on our ability to participate in the hunting season-setting processes comes from Senate Bill 5127. It was passed by the Senate on March 12 and is now in the House Natural Resources Committee.

This bill would wipe out the safeguards that Referendum 45, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of the voters in 1995, put into place. If SB 5127 becomes law it would reconstruct the Fish & Wildlife Commission into a mere advisory board, and give the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) the total authority to set our hunting seasons without the public input process we currently have.

For the record the commissioners aren’t raking in big bucks by serving. They are paid a hundred bucks a day for the meetings and get their room, board and gas money covered. The reason good people are attracted to serving is that the position is one of great responsibility and importance because the Director of the WDFW is hired by, fired by and answers to the commission.

The scuttlebutt is that the House Natural Resources Committee will either kill the bill, or amend it in an attempt to retain the Commission’s current regulatory authority over the WDFW; but this would keep everything else in the bill, including changing the position of Director of the WDFW into a cabinet appointment (by the Governor) rather than an appointment controlled by the Fish & Wildlife Commission. It was the current Governor who stripped the commission of four members, and replaced them with four of her own choosing, thereby igniting a scuffle that started a downward spiral that the commission has suffered from ever since. Would it be a good idea for a Governor, any Governor, to be given authority to appoint some friend as the Director of WDFW? In my opinion, no, it wouldn’t.

It is speculated that, if this bill dies in the House Natural Resources Committee, the Senate is prepared to then call each current commissioner up for confirmation as it should have done long ago (but, for some political reasons unbeknownst to me, hasn’t). George Orr is the only seated commissioner who has been confirmed. The only one! I think this is more evidence of political ballyhoo. I hope that SB 5127 does die in the committee so that the Governor will be obligated to compel the Senate to move forward with the confirmation processes; the current commissioners who are unworthy will be canned and others will be appointed to take their places. That is how it was designed to work and when allowed to work, it works well. It is further conjectured that the Senate likely will not confirm anyone except Chuck Perry. From the little bit I’ve spoken to Mr. Perry I think he is a good man and an asset to the hunting community.

A couple of days ago I was sent a link to a video recording of a February 2, 2009 Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing in which Mr. Ed Owens, representing both the Coalition of Coastal Fisheries and the Hunters Heritage Council, spoke in support of the bill. This confuses me because as a longtime supporter of Mr. Owens and the HHC I don't understand why 'my' lobbyist would support a bill that would take the public input process away from hunters. That is… unless he knows full well that it won't make it out of the House committee. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and presume that this is the case.

Mr. Owens was among the people who helped write Referendum 45. It was Referendum 45 that gave us equity of harvest. For the past fourteen years the commission has protected us from the department. Archery hunters have been satisfied with the allocation formula used to allocate the bull tags on the east side; the commission gave us that against the department’s requests. The commission has been very fair to hunters over the years. Many times the department recommended that archery seasons be shortened and many times the commission listened to reasonable arguments against the department’s proposals and voted in favor of maintaining our season lengths. If the process that we have now is abolished archery hunting will suffer.

Commercial fishing interests are supporting the bill. Nothing against them, but I don’t believe they have hunters' best interests at heart on this one. And I don’t think it is right to rub out the only safeguard hunters have just to appease the commercial fishing industry. So, I believe we are courting disaster if we don’t fight against this attempt to change the current commission structure.

We have approximately one week to make it known to our Representatives in the House how we feel about significance of Referendum 45. To do so go to:  http://www.leg.wa.gov/legislature  then click the "Find your District" tab; fill in your address and it will give you the links and addresses of your Representatives. The most important contacts right now are the eight members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee: Chairman Brian Blake, Vice-Chairman Jim Jacks, Bruce Chandler, Norma Smith, Laura Grant-Herriot, Joel Kretz, Marko Liias and John McCoy. Everyone in the state can write to a Committeeperson, but if any of them are from your district tell them so, and then your letter will be of particularly strong influence!

Please take the time to send them a letter (or at least an email; but a letter carries more weight) expressing what it means to you as a hunter to have a Fish & Wildlife Commission with the authority to regulate the actions of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. The importance of this should be especially obvious now, in light of the tremendous turnout by the archery hunters at the commission meeting two weeks ago; of the approximately one hundred people who attended on Saturday it is estimated that as many as three-quarters of them were archery hunters. Significant gains were made at that meeting. It was Referendum 45 that made the public’s involvement possible. This public process will be lost if SB 5127 becomes law.

For Archery Hunting,
Dale Sharp

PS. You can read the Commission’s Position Statement on SB5127 by clicking this link or by cutting and pasting it into your browser’s address line:  http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2009/03/mar1309_5127sb_fwc_position.pdf
They explained it better than I can.
"To me, how you take an animal and how you conduct the hunt, and what you gain from the experience is what bowhunting is all about."
-Jay Massey

Offline Dale Sharp

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Re: Washington Archery Coalition position on SB 5127
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2009, 10:33:00 PM »
It has been called to my attention I have made a mistake. In my earlier post I wrote that Mr. Ed Owens testified in support of Senate Bill 5127 at a hearing of the Senate Natural Resources Committee on February 2, 2009. It is a matter of public record that he testified as “other”. [Please see below that which I copied and pasted from the Senate’s website.]

I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and especially to Mr. Owens. I will attempt to do a better job researching facts.

That being said, the bill as it is written is still no good.

Dale

From the Senate website:  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2009-10/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/Senate/5127%20SBR%20APS%2009.pdf

Staff Summary of Public Testimony: PRO: DFW needs a professional, full-time, cabinet level director that is appointed by the Governor. The current Commission is not trained in fisheries management and is inconsistently involved in the fisheries management process. If it is to remain, the Commission should serve a merely advisory role.
CON: The Commission was created by a vote of the people, so only a vote of the people
should change its structure. The Commission is composed of citizens who work very hard to understand complex fish and wildlife issues. They also oversee public processes that allow broad public and stakeholder participation.
OTHER: There are larger questions out there than just the number of Commission members. A stakeholder group should be commissioned to review the Commission and come back with recommendations to the Legislature. Many stakeholders have concerns about the current makeup of the Commission, even if they support the Commission model itself. Although it may not be the right vehicle, this bill provides a good start to conversations about the issue.
Persons Testifying: PRO: Steve Robinson, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
CON: Carl Burke, Northwest Sports Fishing Association; John Douglas, Washington
Wildlife Federation.
OTHER: Bill Robinson, The Nature Conservancy; Ed Owens, Coalition of Coastal
Fisheries, Hunters Heritage Council.
Senate Bill
"To me, how you take an animal and how you conduct the hunt, and what you gain from the experience is what bowhunting is all about."
-Jay Massey

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