February 17, 2010

Bill to eliminate Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Parks and Recreation Commission gains only support of DNR

A bill to eliminate the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Parks and Recreation Commission and move their programs into the Department of Natural Resources gained only the support of DNR at Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Natural Resources, Oceans and Recreation Committee.

Senate Bill 6813 is meant to save money, but a wide range of speakers said it wouldn’t be cost-effective, harms programs and many of the efficiencies are already in the works thanks to the governor’s natural resources reform report and an executive order.

“The current bill is the wrong approach at the wrong time…,” said Tim Young, a Local 443 member at Fish and Wildlife. “With last year’s round of cuts, these agencies are already operating on fumes.”

Parks Commissioner Joe Taller, a former state budget director in a Republican administration, was more blunt.

“This is a bad bill,” Taller said.

Parks and Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, the Wildlife Federation, the snowmobilers association, the Nature Conservancy, the Yakama Tribe, and other advocates for parks, recreation and resources all joined the Federation in opposing the bill.

At the end of the hearing, committee chair Sen. Ken Jacobsen of the 46th District said he, too, was skeptical.

This is a bill to keep an eye on, though.

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