May 16, 2011

Natural resources consolidation bill streamlined in new substitute

2SSB 5669 – a natural resources consolidation and streamlining bill – heard today by the Senate Ways and Means committee, no longer creates a Department of Fish, Wildlife and Recreation (DFWR), a proposed consolidation of Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) and Department of Natural Resources’ law enforcement and instead directs natural resource agencies to consolidate regional offices for each agency with no more than four regions per agency and identify regional or field office appropriate for use as shared facilities between multiple agencies to maximize staff and resource co-location. 

Agencies affected – Agriculture, Ecology, Fish & Wildlife, Natural Resources, RCO, Puget Sound Partnership and Parks and Recreation Commission.

Administrative functions to be consolidated among multiple agencies include: communications, human resources, contracting and procurement, public records and disclosure, financial/budget and accounting, and information technology. An interagency team will be established to assist with implementation of the consolidation measures and provide progress reports and recommendations by 9/1/11 and 9/1/12.

2SSB also transfers authority from Department of Health to Ecology permitting and regulating roles for the reclaimed water program; and from Ecology to Health, permitting of the commercial low-level radiation waste (LLRW) disposal facility. Also in Ecology, the agency will assume support functions of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, and add a program for Pollution Liability Insurance – formerly a stand-alone agency.

Finally, the State Conservation Commission is directed to work cooperatively with Conservation Districts complete a consolidation goal of 39 total districts.

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