WSR 07-03-180

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

FISH AND WILDLIFE

[ Filed January 24, 2007, 11:28 a.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 06-24-116.

Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: WAC 232-12-181 Livestock grazing on department of fish and wildlife lands.

Hearing Location(s): Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street S.E., Olympia, WA 98504, on March 9-10, 2007, at 8:00 a.m.

Date of Intended Adoption: April 6, 2007.

Submit Written Comments to: Wildlife Program Commission Meeting Public Comments, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091, e-mail Wildthing@dfw.wa.gov, fax (360) 902-2162, by Friday, February 16, 2007.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Susan Yeager by March 6, 2007, TTY (800) 833-6388 or (360) 902-2267.

Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: Revises existing WAC to more accurately reflect how the department administers grazing permits and provides flexibility to ensure highest benefits to fish and wildlife from domestic livestock grazing programs on fish and wildlife lands. Proposal amends WAC 232-12-181. It does not change or affect any other WDFW rules or fish and wildlife commission policy.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: Existing WAC language has been interpreted to mean that the Washington department of fish and wildlife will sell grazing permits at public auction to the highest bidder, while providing some flexibility for negotiating grazing permits with individual operators as an option. The reality is that permits sold at public auction are much more difficult to administer and do not reflect how the department prefers to enter into new permits. Most grazing permits are negotiated to ensure the highest benefits to fish and wildlife. This provides much more flexibility for the department and eliminates any sense of entitlement that a successful bidder might have, if the permit were purchased at an auction. The revised language still allows the department to sell permits at auction.

Existing WAC language only provides for two-week temporary permits. Two-week permits are not sufficient to address most needs for temporary grazing or accommodate pilot grazing projects which may only last a year or less. Most requests for temporary permits come from grazing operators that have been impacted by wildfire or other emergencies and need emergency short-term grazing for one season or less. In 2006, the department began some pilot grazing projects to test various grazing strategies and did not want to issue five-year permits because of the temporary and uncertain nature of a pilot project. Revised WAC language will make it easier to accommodate emergency grazing situations and pilot grazing projects.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 77.12.210.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 77.12.210.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Name of Proponent: Washington department of fish and wildlife commission, governmental.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting and Implementation: Dave Brittell, Natural Resources Building, (360) 902-2504; and Enforcement: Bruce Bjork, Natural Resources Building, (360) 902-2932.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. These rules regulate grazing and do not directly regulate small business.

A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328. Not hydraulics rules.

January 23, 2007

Loreva M. Preuss

Rules Coordinator

OTS-9489.1


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Order 03-03, filed 1/7/03, effective 2/7/03)

WAC 232-12-181   Livestock grazing on department of fish and wildlife lands.   All persons wishing to apply for a grazing permit should contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 North Capitol Way, Olympia, Washington 98501-1091.

(1) The director is authorized to enter into grazing permits when the director determines that a grazing permit will be consistent with the desired ecological condition for those lands or the department's strategic plan. Except for temporary permits, or permits that are being renewed or renegotiated with existing permittees, each grazing permit shall first be submitted to the commission, which may review the permit to ensure it conforms with commission policy. If, within thirty days, the commission has not disapproved the permit, the director shall be deemed authorized to enter into that permit.

(2) The director shall negotiate grazing permits with potential grazing operators to ensure the highest benefits to fish and wildlife. The director may advertise and sell a permit to use department lands for grazing at public auction to the highest bidder. The director is authorized to reject any and all bids if it is determined to be in the best interest of the department to do so. ((The director may negotiate a grazing permit without using the public auction process only when the director determines that benefits to wildlife would be equal to or greater than the cash or monetary payments foregone.))

(3) The term of each grazing permit shall be no greater than five years. When an existing permit expires or is about to expire, ((and)) the director ((wishes to continue to permit grazing on the subject parcel, then a modified public auction process shall be used. A minimum bid based on market value shall be established prior to the public auction. The last previous or the existing permittee shall be provided the option of meeting the highest bid made at public auction)) may renew the permit for up to another five years, renegotiate the grazing permit with the existing permittee, negotiate a new permit with a new grazing operator, or sell the permit at public auction to the highest bidder. The director is authorized to reject any and all bids if it is determined to be in the best interest of the department to do so. The director may grant a term longer than five years only with the prior approval of the commission. ((The director may permit exceptions to the public auction process only when the director determines that benefits to wildlife would be equal to or greater than the cash or monetary payment foregone.))

(4) A temporary permit may be granted by the director to satisfy ((an immediate,)) short-term needs where benefits to wildlife management programs and the public interest can be demonstrated. The term of a temporary permit shall not exceed ((two weeks)) one year and no fee need be charged.

(5) Except for temporary permits lasting less than two weeks, each grazing permit proposal shall be accompanied by a domestic livestock grazing management plan that includes a description of ecological impacts, desired ecological condition, fish and wildlife benefits, a monitoring plan, and an evaluation schedule for lands that will be grazed by livestock. The director shall inspect the site of a grazing permit no less than two times each year. The director shall retain the right to alter provisions of the plan to reduce acreage available or the number of animals using the area when such change is, in the judgment of the director, required to benefit fish or wildlife management, public hunting and fishing, or other recreational uses.

(6) The director may cancel a permit (a) for noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the permit, or (b) if the area described in the permit is included in a land use plan determined by the agency to be a higher and better use, or (c) if the property is sold or conveyed, or (d) if damage to wildlife or wildlife habitat occurs.

(7) All lands covered by any grazing permit agreement shall at all times be open to public hunting, fishing and other wildlife recreational uses unless such lands have been closed by action of the commission or emergency order of the director.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 77.12.047. 03-03-016 (Order 03-03), 232-12-181, filed 1/7/03, effective 2/7/03. Statutory Authority: RCW 77.12.210. 88-23-109 (Order 323), 232-12-181, filed 11/22/88. Statutory Authority: RCW 77.12.040. 82-04-034 (Order 177), 232-12-181, filed 1/28/82; 81-12-029 (Order 165), 232-12-181, filed 6/1/81. Formerly WAC 232-12-405.]

Washington State Code Reviser's Office