WDFW also will host a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m., March 7, at WDFW’s Southwest regional office, 5525 S. 11th St., Ridgefield
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comments on a draft management plan for the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area.
WDFW also will host a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m., March 7, at WDFW’s Southwest regional office, 5525 S. 11th St., Ridgefield.
The wildlife area comprises 18 units located in Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties and covers a total of roughly 9,897 acres. The Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area is largely managed for elk in the North Fork Toutle River Valley. The other units are diverse, and provide habitat for multitudes of species, over a broad range of habitats including old growth forest, forested floodplains, ancient lava flows, mineral springs, and wetlands.
Over the past year, WDFW staff has worked with a citizen-based advisory group to develop a draft management plan that addresses the status of wildlife species and their habitats, restoration efforts, and public recreation on the wildlife area.
“Wildlife areas are public lands, so it is critical for us to have public input to inform management,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager.
The plan will be available prior to the meeting on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/management_plans/mount_saint_helens/.
The public can submit comments online through April 8 at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/sepa/sepa_comment_docs.html. Comments can also be submitted at the March 7 meeting.
The public comment period will be conducted under the State Environmental Policy Act, which is designed to ensure that Washington citizens can participate in governmental decisions that could affect the environment.
The department is revising management plans for the state’s 33 wildlife areas to reflect current conditions and identify new priorities. WDFW is also currently updating management plans for its Scatter Creek and South Puget Sound wildlife areas in western Washington and Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area in southeast Washington.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities. WDFW manages more than one million acres of public land across the state that is designated for wildlife habitat and public recreation.