S-4497.2  _______________________________________________


                         SENATE BILL 6753



State of Washington      55th Legislature     1998 Regular Session


By Senators Swecker, Winsley and Anderson


Read first time 02/04/98.  Referred to Committee on Natural Resources & Parks.

Attempting to restore the salmon population to an attainable level.

    AN ACT Relating to salmon recovery; amending RCW 90.82.040; adding a new chapter to Title 75 RCW; and declaring an emergency.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  The legislature finds that it is in the best interest of the citizens of the state of Washington for the state to retain primary responsibility for managing the natural resources of the state, rather than abdicating those responsibilities to the federal government.  The legislature further finds that there is a substantial link between the provisions of the federal endangered species act (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq.) and the federal clean water act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1251 et seq.).  Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to develop a structure that allows for the coordinated delivery of state and federal assistance to local communities for the recovery and enhancement of salmon stocks within the state while also addressing improvements to water quality.  The legislature also recognizes that adaptive management is the best way to help salmon stocks recover, and that adaptive management only works if there is effective monitoring and sharing of results of local efforts.  The legislature therefore finds that an office should be created within the governor's office to allow important information to be shared among interested parties, and to allow federal agencies and the general public to see what the state is doing to restore salmon to healthy sustainable populations with productive and recreational fisheries.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

    (1) "Ombudsman" means the ombudsman of the governor's salmon office.

    (2) "Region" means a group of contiguous water resource inventory area planning entities formed into a regional council under section 5 of this act.

    (3) "Water resource inventory area" means a water resource inventory area established in chapter 173-500 WAC as it existed on January 1, 1997.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  The governor's salmon office is created.  By April 1, 1998, the governor shall appoint an ombudsman for the office.  The ombudsman shall serve at the pleasure of the governor.  The salary of the ombudsman shall be fixed by the governor, subject to RCW 43.03.040.

    The salmon office consists of four permanent and up to eight total staff, including the ombudsman.  At least one of the permanent staff positions is reserved for a person who is knowledgeable in tribal fishery interests.  The ombudsman shall solicit a list of suitable candidates from federally recognized Indian tribes.  Two staff transfers will occur from the department of fish and wildlife and, in addition, other agencies may transfer existing staff as necessary.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4.  The governor's salmon office will undertake activities on a state-wide or evolutionary significant unit basis designed to improve the health of salmon as follows:

    (1) Negotiation of, or assistance in the negotiation of, international and interstate compacts or treaties affecting salmon;

    (2) Acting as liaison for the state congressional delegation, the United States congress, and the federal executive branch for issues affecting salmon;

    (3) Review work plans with federal and tribal governments and state agencies for consistency with applicable laws and treaties.  If a plan is found to be deficient, it will be returned, with recommended changes; and

    (4) Any other services requested by a region that are reasonably related to the development or implementation of a salmon habitat restoration plan.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.  Regional councils must be formed for one or more water resource inventory areas as defined for regional fisheries enhancement groups established under chapter 75.50 RCW, including subsequent minor adjustments, and except for the mid-Puget Sound region, which will be split into west and east side regions, and the upper Columbia river region, which will be split into Snake river, Columbia river between Bonneville dam and Grand Coulee dam, and above Grand Coulee dam.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6.  (1) A regional council must enter into a memorandum of agreement with the ombudsman for the purpose of developing a salmon habitat restoration plan in collaboration with the governor's salmon office.

    (2) The memorandum of agreement may specify that the governor's salmon office provide for one or more of the following services on behalf of, or in conjunction with, a regional council:

    (a) Develop, or assist in the development of, an effective science-based salmon habitat restoration plan that meets the requirements of section 8 of this act;

    (b) Confer with the federal government for the integration of federal requirements, including, but not limited to, water quality standards under the federal clean water act and any standards, performance measures, or actions that may be required under the federal endangered species act;

    (c) Assist in identifying and obtaining funding for projects to implement a salmon habitat restoration plan; and

    (d) Assist in obtaining permits or in streamlining the permitting process for categories of projects that will be routinely required to implement the regional plan.

    (3) The memorandum of agreement will provide for regional council staffing and for the creation of a watershed action team, or multiple teams if deemed necessary to perform the services under subsection (2) of this section, if sufficient federal, state, local, tribal, and nongovernmental funds are available.

    (4) A watershed action team consists of watershed experts that are local, state, federal, tribal, or nongovernmental employees.  The team shall not be a state entity.  A nonstate employee recruited to serve on the team retains the same employer and is not considered a state employee.  State employees recruited to serve on the team shall be existing employees.  The team terminates when the agreed-upon services are completed.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7.  (1) The regional council consists of:  (a) Qualified representatives of cities, counties, state, and tribal governments; (b) conservation districts; (c) regional fisheries enhancement groups; and (d) reasonably balanced representation of economic and environmental interests in the management area.

    (2) The development of habitat restoration plans may include one or more water resource inventory areas by a single regional council.

    (3) As provided in subsections (4) and (5) of this section, the regional council may choose an existing planning group as the basis for the regional council or they may form a new group.

    (4) If the regional council chooses an existing planning group as the basis for the regional council, the planning group shall have been in existence for at least one year before being so chosen.  To be considered, the representation of governmental entities and interest groups on such a planning group must be generally similar to the representation identified in subsection (1) of this section.  If the regional council finds that the existing group has the required composition and finds that the scope of the group's work is or has been appropriate considering the tasks to be given the regional council under this chapter, then the council may designate the group as the basis for local participation on the regional council.  The existing group chosen in this manner, plus any new membership as set out in subsection (1) of this section, constitute the regional council for developing salmon habitat restoration plans under this chapter.

    (5) The regional council may create a new planning group tailored to the specific geographic area for which salmon habitat restoration plans will be developed.

    (6) For the purposes of this chapter, a county or conservation district is considered to have territory within a management area only if the territory of the county or conservation district located in one of the water resource inventory areas in the management area constitutes at least fifteen percent of the area of the water resource inventory area.

    (7) In appointing persons to a regional council, the cities and counties shall ensure that there is reasonably balanced representation of economic and environmental interests in the management area.

    (8) The governmental entities of the regional council will hold a public meeting to initiate formalization of the regional council within sixty days of the effective date of this act.

    (9) Each regional council may invite representatives of federal agencies with jurisdiction over the subject matter for which integrated watershed management is being developed by the unit and the managers of major federal lands located within the management area to assist the regional council by participating in the development of salmon habitat restoration plans.  These representatives are not members of the planning unit for voting purposes.

    (10) The regional council will:

    (a) Select an administrator and an administrative assistant and establish their responsibilities;

    (b) Meet with the ombudsman and mutually establish the responsibilities of the ombudsman;

    (c) Administer any available funds to water resource inventory area entities for salmon planning and restoration efforts;

    (d) Establish a name for the regional council;

    (e) Contract for restoration services as provided in sections 12 through 14 of this act; and

    (f) Conduct any other activity necessary to develop and implement a salmon habitat restoration plan or any portion thereof.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 8.  A regional council that opts to develop a salmon habitat restoration plan, on its own or in conjunction with the governor's salmon office, shall submit the plan to the ombudsman within three years of the species that is the subject of the restoration plan being listed under the federal endangered species act.  The habitat restoration plan shall:

    (1) Be based on best available science.  This criterion includes, but is not limited to, a requirement that the plan and projects receive outside scientific review as appropriate, projects be monitored, and the plan include an adaptive management strategy;

    (2) Ensure that projects or actions identified in the plan have, to the extent possible, quantifiable standards, performance measures, or objectives;

    (3) Include strategies to ensure that the plan is implemented.  Strategies include sufficient funding and other provisions designed to provide certainty that the plan is implemented.  The plan shall also include a strategy specifically designed to encourage citizen participation in implementing the plan.  The strategy may include, but is not limited to:  Technical assistance, voluntary incentives, permit streamlining, media campaigns, and volunteer initiatives.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 9.  (1) The regional council will address the components of salmon habitat restoration plans under this chapter.

    (2) In addition to the aspects of salmon habitat restoration plans required in this chapter, the regional council shall identify within the habitat restoration plans:  (a) The actions and activities that are necessary to implement the provisions of the salmon habitat restoration plan, to monitor the effectiveness of the implementation, and to provide any needed adaptive management; and (b) the entities responsible for conducting these actions and activities.  The regional council shall also identify any entity responsible for the coordinated oversight of these responsibilities.

    (3)(a) Upon completing its proposed salmon habitat restoration plan for the management area, the regional council shall publish notice of and conduct at least one public hearing in the management area on the proposal.  As a minimum, the notice shall be published in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the management area.  After considering the public comments and making any changes in its proposal, the regional council may approve the proposal by consensus of all of the members of the regional council or by consensus among the members of the regional council appointed to represent units of general government.

    (b) Consensus among the members of the regional council appointed to represent units of general government is achieved if each of the members of the regional council appointed to represent the state, to represent tribal government, to directly represent counties, and to directly represent cities records his or her support for the proposed integrated watershed management as part of a recorded vote on the proposal.  However, if a representative of tribal government votes to oppose the proposed salmon habitat restoration plan, the governor's salmon office shall immediately initiate government-to-government consultation with the tribal government regarding the portions of the plan that are opposed by the tribal government.

    (c) If the proposal is approved by the regional council, the unit shall submit the proposal to the governor's salmon office for review.

    (d) If a proposed salmon habitat restoration plan is returned to the regional council with recommendations for revisions, a revised work plan must be considered.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 10.  (1) Whenever voting is used by a regional council for making decisions, each member appointed to the regional council shall have one vote.

    (2) A vacancy on a regional council shall be filled by appointment in the same manner prescribed for appointing the position that has become vacant.  The regional council shall not interrupt its work to await additional original appointments or appointments to fill any vacancies that may occur in its membership.

    (3) For the purposes of this chapter, a county is considered to have territory within a management area only if the territory of the county or district located in one of the water resource inventory areas in the management area constitutes at least fifteen percent of the area of the water resource inventory area.


    Sec. 11.  RCW 90.82.040 and 1997 c 442 s 105 are each amended to read as follows:

    (1) Once a WRIA ((planning unit)) regional council has been organized ((and designated a lead agency)), ((it)) either independently or jointly, the lead county or tribe will volunteer to house the council, unless the council agrees to another location.  The council shall notify the department and ((may)) apply to the department for funding assistance for conducting the planning.  Funds shall be provided from and to the extent of appropriations made by the legislature to the department expressly for this purpose.

    (2) Each ((planning unit)) regional council that has complied with subsection (1) of this section is eligible to receive ((fifty)) one hundred thousand dollars ((for each WRIA)) to initiate the planning process.  ((The department shall allocate additional funds to WRIA planning units based on need demonstrated by a detailed proposed budget submitted by the planning unit for carrying out the duties of the planning unit.  Each WRIA planning unit may receive up to two hundred fifty thousand dollars for each WRIA during the first two-year period of planning, with a maximum allocation of five hundred thousand dollars for each WRIA.  Funding provided under this section shall be considered a contractual obligation against the moneys appropriated for this purpose.))

    (3) ((Preference shall be given to planning units requesting funding for conducting multi-WRIA planning under section 108 of this act)) Each regional council will maintain a geographic information system and data base to track potential and completed projects, monitoring efforts, the degree to which a project met its standard, performance measure, or objective, the number of volunteers trained, the number of volunteers deployed, and the cost of each project by fund source.

    (4) The department may retain up to one percent of funds allocated under this section to defray administrative costs.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 12.  (1) The legislature finds that:

    (a) The health of many salmon stocks around the state have declined significantly and are currently in a critical or depressed condition;

    (b) Citizen involvement is essential if the general decline in salmon health is to be reversed;

    (c) Citizens can and will show a remarkable level of involvement and commitment to restoring salmon and the healthy rivers and streams that salmon depend on; and

    (d) This level of involvement will be achieved only if the program is voluntary, nongovernmental, and widely advertised.

    (2) The legislature therefore declares it is in the public interest to utilize existing regional fishery enhancement groups and other private nonprofit volunteer groups for the habitat volunteer restoration initiative as provided in this chapter.

    (3) The purpose of sections 13 and 14 of this act is to fund existing volunteer habitat restoration groups to develop, train, and mobilize a substantial volunteer work force to restore salmon health.  The initiative shall be designed to create a very high level of public awareness of salmon issues and how citizens can be involved in positive solutions.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 13.  The volunteer habitat restoration account is created in the state treasury.  All receipts from legislative appropriations for the purposes of chapter . . ., Laws of 1998 (this act) must be deposited into the account.  Moneys in the account may be spent only after appropriation.  Expenditures from the account may be used only for volunteer restoration projects undertaken pursuant to section 14 of this act, for technical assistance for the projects, and for the administration of these projects.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 14.  (1) A volunteer habitat restoration initiative is created when a contract is signed by the director of the department of fish and wildlife, an administrator for a regional council, and a nonprofit entity or a collaborative group of nonprofit entities.  The contract shall specify the responsibilities of each party to include, but not be limited to, the issues set out in this section.

    (2) The regional council, in cooperation with the volunteer group, shall identify:

    (a) The types of projects that are a high priority for salmon restoration and that are appropriate for volunteers to undertake;

    (b) Priority river or stream segments in which projects should occur;

    (c) The standard, performance measure, or objective that each project is to achieve;

    (d) The type of monitoring that should occur for each project;

    (e) A mechanism to streamline state permit requirements for projects that will implement a salmon habitat restoration plan or have been identified by the department of fish and wildlife as having a high priority for salmon restoration;

    (f) The duration of the initiative; and

    (g) The amount of total funds needed and the amount provided by the department of fish and wildlife.

    (3) The lead entity representing the appropriate local government shall identify:

    (a) A mechanism to streamline local government permit requirements for projects that will implement a salmon habitat restoration plan or have been identified by the department of fish and wildlife as having a high priority for salmon restoration;

    (b) Staff resources available to provide training or technical assistance to the project; and

    (c) The fund sources and total funding, both direct and in-kind, that will be provided to the pilot initiative.

    (4) The nonprofit entity shall:

    (a) Recruit volunteers;

    (b) Provide training appropriate to the project undertaken;

    (c) Deploy volunteers with sufficient resources to meet the specified standards, performance measures, or objectives established for the project;

    (d) Seek additional funds from private sponsors;

    (e) Work with private landowners and governmental entities to identify project opportunities;

    (f) Work with the appropriate local and state government personnel to identify technical assistance opportunities and permitting obstacles; and

    (g) Work with the media to develop a high level of public awareness about the initiative.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 15.  Sections 1 through 10 and 12 through 14 of this act constitute a new chapter in Title 75 RCW.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 16.  This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately.


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