We have to get the wording pulled out of the Senate budget bill. Time to take action is now.
The Senate bill calling for the merger of WDFW & Parks into DNR remains bottled up in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Multiple title only bills dealing with "natural resources" have been introduced - any one of them could be used as the policy vehicle to merge WDFW & Parks into DNR and that's now the likely event to occur. The Senate budget released yesterday zero's out the WDFW budget, reduces the agency operating budget by $10.5 million and transfers all WDFW functions to DNR. No proof has been presented that the state "saves" $10.5 million in operating costs by these actions. Making these budget provisions will require passage of a policy bill - you can bet one will come down the road quickly - we just don't know what vehicle (bill) will be used.
This is deadly and serious business - EVERY FISHING, HUNTING AND RELATED PROGRAM AND EVERY DEDICATED FUND IS AT RISK FOR TERMINATION OR REDUCTION. The majority of hunters and fishers in Washington State agreed to surcharges on their licenses to keep these important functions in place last year. Your support of the department will be wiped out if the Senate Budget is allowed to advance with the merger language in it - the House version of the budget does not (yet) contain this language.
You, your organizations and all of the members or your organizations (and their friends and family) ABSOLUTELY need to get involved NOW. The only "target" at the moment is the merger language in the Senate budget. A simple "I oppose merger of the natural resource agencies" will suffice. It's been about 15 years since the old department of fish and department of game were merged to create WDFW. We're still dealing with the ugly consequences of that merger. We don't need another super agency ... that's not government reform. Creating another super agency while doing harm to the already existing programs willingly funded by hunters and fishers is not responsible wildlife management.
The first order of priority is for everybody to contact EVERY member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee with the message LOUD AND CLEAR STATED that the hunters and fishers of the state are adamantly opposed to merging WDFW into DNR. The second order of priority is then for all the rest of the members of the Senate to "hear" that message as well as your legislators in the House.
Individual direct web-based emails can be sent through http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rosters/CommitteeMembersByCommittee.aspx?Chamber=S
A list of Senators and their non-web email address is at https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/Default.aspx?Chamber=S
The in-state toll-free Hotline number for those wanting to call their legislators is 800.562.6000.
The 22 members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee are:
Senator Margarita Prentice (Chair)
Senator Karen Fraser (Vice-Chair, Capital Budget)
Senator Rodney Tom (Vice Chair, Operating Budget - author of the merger effort)
Senator Joseph Zarelli (Ranking Minority)
Senator Dale Brandland
Senator Mike Carrell
Senator Darlene Fairley
Senator Mike Hewitt
Senator Steve Hobbs
Senator Jim Honeyford
Senator Karen Keiser
Senator Adam Kline
Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Senator Joe McDermott
Senator Ed Murray
Senator Eric Oemig
Senator Linda Evans Parlette
Senator Cheryl Pflug
Senator Craig Pridemore
Senator Debbie Regala
Senator Phil Rockefeller
Senator Mark Schoesler