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Recommendation: 3

Status: Underway

Apply and enforce laws that protect habitat.


Action 1

Provide state agencies with the capacity for implementing, enforcing, and coordinating regulations and laws at state and local levels to protect habitat and water quality.

Action 2

Direct state agencies to identify and report to the task force on different regulations that can improve the availability of food for orcas.

Action 3

Coordinate state and local enforcement efforts.

Action 4

Develop and adopt rules to implement and enforce the Fishways, Flow, and Screening law.

Action 5

Enhance the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s enforcement of the law for construction projects in water and fish passage regulations.

Action 6

Increase penalties and prosecution of violations of state and local habitat protection and water quality regulations.

Implementation Details

  • As soon as possible, the Governor should direct Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to develop rules to fully implement and enforce the Fishway, Flow and Screening statute.
  • The Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Ecology should work with the Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to increase compliance with habitat protection and water quality regulations. The number of staff at the agencies should be increased to improve implementation, compliance, and civil enforcement.
  • The Legislature should amend the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s civil penalty statute to provide the department with enforcement tools equivalent to those of local governments and the Departments of Ecology and Natural Resources.
  • Increase coordination among local governments, Department of Ecology, and Department of Fish and Wildlife in reviewing shoreline armoring proposals to better protect forage fish by advancing the Puget Sound Partnership’s Shoreline Armoring Implementation Strategy.
  • The Governor and Legislature must support and provide clear direction to state agencies to help improve implementation and compliance of existing habitat and water quality regulations to improve the amount of food available for Southern Residents. The agencies should report back to the task force before July 2019 on progress made. At the state level, the Governor and Legislature must provide clear direction and support to facilitate change from the status quo (due to variable implementation).

Recent Progress

  • The State is assessing areas along rivers (riparian areas) important to salmon by looking at current conditions and identifying gaps in plant and tree cover.
  • The State is improving information on areas important for fish habitat, such as channel migration zones, shorelines, and riparian areas, through better aerial photography and mapping.
  • The Department of Commerce is providing technical assistance and grants to local governments to improve enforcement of environmental protection requirements.
  • The Legislature improved the law (Revised Code of Washington 77.55.231), which requires homeowners to use methods that cause the least harm to fish when replacing marine barriers along the shoreline.
  • The Department of Ecology was awarded $4.5 million to hire staff and increase technical assistance and enforcement of state water quality, water quantity, and habitat protection laws.
  • The Department of Fish and Wildlife is creating rules to implement the Fishways, Flow, and Screening law (Revised Code of Washington 77.57) to improve fish passage at human-made structures in the water.
  • The Legislature provided funding for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to help landowners comply with the Hydraulic Project Approval permit requirements (Revised Code of Washington 77.57), which should lead to greater fish protection and stronger fish populations.

More details may be found in the progress reports in the resources library.