Warnick bill strengthening public-private partnerships for state-managed lands clears Senate

Department of Fish and Wildlife can expand volunteer and nonprofit cooperation

Over 1 million acres across 33 wildlife areas and over 450 waterways are under the management of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The department is tasked with preserving and protecting the state’s vast natural resources and it’s a big job.

State Sen. Judy Warnick’s legislation would make that burden easier by expanding the authority of the DFW to work with volunteer organizations and nonprofits to help in that mission.

Senate Bill 5785, approved unanimously by the Senate today, would allow Fish and Wildlife to enter into longer-term agreements with charitable organizations to help maintain and protect the vast portfolio of wildlife areas and waterways.

“This builds on important work to help preserve our state’s valuable natural resources,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has done a great job working with community partners and this bill gives them more flexibility to engage with organizations that are just as dedicated to the mission of passing along a vibrant environment to the next generation of Washingtonians.”

In 2013, the Legislature passed a law granting limited authority to DFW to work with volunteer organizations. Warnick’s bill would expand that ability, helping bring more community resources to bear.

“Given the large task, our state needs all the help we can get to take care of our wildlife areas and state-managed lands,” Warnick added. “Financial resources are limited, but taking care of our state is a cooperative effort that needs more than just money. The time and talents of organizations like the Back Country Horsemen, who frequently assist in this endeavor, are invaluable.”

Warnick’s bipartisan bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.