Commission expected to choose director candidate Jan. 10

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to name Saturday the person it hopes will become the new director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The nine-member commission is scheduled to meet in executive session during a special meeting Thursday, and then again beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday to review the final four candidates for the position. At 8 a.m. Saturday, the commission is scheduled to meet in public session and vote on extending an offer.

The commission interviewed eight candidates for the position in December before choosing the four finalists.

The commission has been working on finding candidates since August when Phil Anderson announced he was resigning. At the commission’s request, Anderson agreed to remain on the job until a new director is in place.

Anderson has worked for the department for 20 years, spending the last six as the head of the agency. During his career with the department, Anderson led negotiations on salmon fishing seasons with tribal co-managers. He also has served as the state’s representative on the Pacific Fishery Management Council. In 2008, Anderson was named interim director, and assumed the role permanently in September 2009. He and his wife, Chris, live in Westport.

According to the job posting, the director position pays up to $151,705 annually. The director oversees the department’s more than 1,500 employees, its biennial budget of more than $350 million and is responsible for managing more than 900,000 acres of wildlife habitat and hundreds of water access sites.

FISHING RULES: The commission will vote on proposed changes to the state’ fishing regulations. The vote is scheduled to take place about 11 a.m. Friday.

Department staffers have been working since May to develop a series of proposed changes, including those suggested by the public. A public hearing on the proposals was held during the commission’s meeting in December.

The majority of the proposals this year focus on the Columbia River, its tributaries and lakes within the Columbia Basin. Among the proposals is allowing the use of two fishing poles and barbed hooks on the Cowlitz River up to the barrier dam from June 1-July 31. This is meant to allow anglers to catch more hatchery steelhead. Another change would require catch-and-release fishing on the Naches River above Rattlesnake Creek. Another proposal would close all rivers, streams and beaver ponds in the basin to fishing unless otherwise stated in the rules pamphlet.

All the proposals can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing


FISHING POLICIES: Also on Friday, the commission will receive briefings and hold public hearings on several fishing policies. The first will be a look at the North of Falcon policy. This guides department staffers as the begin the process of developing salmon fishing seasons with federal and tribal fishery managers. The commission also will discuss the Columbia River fishery management policy as part of its annual review of that policy. There also will be an update on the progress of developing a Willapa Bay salmon management plan.

STURGEON UPDATE: Cindy Le Fleur, the Region 5 Fish Program manager, and Brad James, a biologist, will brief the department on management considerations for sturgeon fishing on the lower Columbia River.

COMMISSION LEADERSHIP: The commission is scheduled to vote on a chairman and vice chairman during Saturday’s portion of the meeting. Each position is a two-year term. Miranda Wecker has served two terms as chairwoman, while Bradley Smith is the current vice chairman. The vote is scheduled to take place about 11:45 a.m.

WHEN: The meeting will open at 8:30 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Comfort Inn Hotel and Conference Center, 1620 74th Ave. SW Tumwater.

AGENDA: wdfw.wa.gov/commission.