58th Legislature
2004 Regular Session

Passed by the House March 9, 2004
  Yeas 93   Nays 0

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Passed by the Senate March 2, 2004
  Yeas 48   Nays 0

President of the Senate

I, Richard Nafziger, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 2650 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.

Chief Clerk

Governor of the State of Washington

Secretary of State
State of Washington




Passed Legislature - 2004 Regular Session
State of Washington58th Legislature2004 Regular Session

By House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources (originally sponsored by Representatives Linville, Flannigan, Cooper, Priest, Quall, Jarrett, Kessler, Tom, Rockefeller, Dunshee, Grant, Romero, Moeller, McDermott, O'Brien, Chase, Upthegrove, Hunt, G. Simpson, Kenney, Wallace, Wood and Kagi)

READ FIRST TIME 02/06/04.   

     AN ACT Relating to important bird areas; amending RCW 79.70.020; adding new sections to chapter 79.70 RCW; and creating a new section.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   Washington has a rich variety of birds, wildlife, and fish that its citizens and visitors enjoy. With over three hundred sixty-five bird species, Washington can use this natural asset to attract nature tourists and sportsmen from all over the country and the world. According to a United States fish and wildlife service report, thirty-six percent of Washington's residents currently participate in bird watching, and the watchable wildlife industry brings nearly one billion dollars per year into the state's economy. The economic benefits delivered to rural economies in Washington by those choosing to recreate by hunting waterfowl or upland game birds is equally as impressive.
     The legislature has long recognized the important role of waterfowl and upland game bird hunting and other sporting pursuits in both the state's economy and the quality of life for Washington residents. Additionally, the 2003 legislature recognized the economic value of promoting watchable wildlife and nature tourism when it required the departments of fish and wildlife and community, trade, and economic development to host a watchable wildlife and nature tourism conference and write a statewide strategic plan. The 2002 legislature recognized the value of identifying and conserving our state's biodiversity for future generations when it created the biodiversity task force and required a plan be developed to recommend ways to conserve biodiversity. Furthermore, over the past fifteen years, the legislature has recognized the important contributions volunteers and nonprofit organizations have made in restoring and monitoring salmon and wildlife habitat. Therefore, it is the goal of the legislature to promote: Partnerships with volunteers; rural economic development; nature tourism; and conservation of biodiversity by encouraging partnerships between state government agencies, volunteers, and nonprofit organizations to designate and conserve natural assets that attract nature tourists and bird watchers to Washington's rural areas.
     To accomplish this goal, the legislature recognizes the scientific work by volunteer organizations to use internationally recognized scientific criteria and protocols to identify, conserve, and monitor areas of the state that are important for migrating and resident birds. Scientists, ornithologists, and qualified volunteers have identified important bird areas. Wildlife conservation organizations and their volunteers are working to develop mutually agreed-upon bird conservation plans and monitoring plans in cooperation with public land managers and private landowners. Volunteers and scientists in more than one hundred countries around the world have already completed identification of fourteen thousand two hundred sixty sites that qualify as important bird areas.
     Qualified volunteers and scientists have already successfully used the international criteria to identify fifty-three sites important for birds in Washington. Following the final round of site selection, volunteer organizations plan to work with landowners, businesses, and local and state governments to develop plans to maintain or enhance sites that will then become destinations for nature tourists to promote rural economic development. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to have Washington participate in the recognition portion of the important bird area program by directing the natural heritage program at the department of natural resources to officially recognize important bird areas.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2   A new section is added to chapter 79.70 RCW to read as follows:
     (1) The program may use information collected by a qualifying nonprofit organization to recognize important bird areas. The program should, to the greatest extent possible, coordinate with and use internationally agreed-upon, scientific criteria and protocols developed by a qualifying nonprofit organization to officially recognize these sites throughout Washington. Prior to using information collected by a qualifying nonprofit organization, the program must verify that the information was collected by individuals trained in scientific data collection, wildlife biology, or ornithology.
     (2) When the program recognizes an important bird area, that information will be included in the program's data bank. An important bird area shall not be designated as a natural area or a natural area preserve unless that area satisfies the substantive and procedural requirements for becoming a natural area or natural area preserve under this chapter.
     (3) The qualifying nonprofit organization that collected the information used to recognize important bird areas should be available to work with interested landowners, businesses, and state and local governments to identify ways to maintain or enhance the important bird areas.
     (4) The recognition of private property as an important bird area under this chapter, or the inclusion of private property in the program's data bank, does not confer nor imply any rights of access or trespass onto the important bird area without full knowledge and consent of the owner pursuant to any state statutory and common laws dealing with trespass and access to private property.
     (5) Recognition of an important bird area does not require or create critical area designation under chapter 36.70A RCW.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3   A new section is added to chapter 79.70 RCW to read as follows:
     Prior to recognizing an important bird area under this chapter, the department must:
     (1) Publish notice of the proposed important bird area in the Washington state register;
     (2) Publish notice of the proposed important bird area in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the proposed important bird area is located; and
     (3) Conduct at least one public hearing in the county where the proposed important bird area is located.

Sec. 4   RCW 79.70.020 and 2003 c 334 s 548 are each amended to read as follows:
     The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
     (1) "Department" means the department of natural resources.
     (2) "Natural areas" and "natural area preserves" include such public or private areas of land or water which have retained their natural character, although not necessarily completely natural and undisturbed, or which are important in preserving rare or vanishing flora, fauna, geological, natural historical or similar features of scientific or educational value and which are acquired or voluntarily registered or dedicated by the owner under this chapter.
     (3) "Public lands" and "state lands" have the meaning set out in RCW 79.02.010.
     (4) "Council" means the natural heritage advisory council as established in RCW 79.70.070.
     (5) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of public lands.
     (6) "Important bird area" means those areas jointly identified by the natural heritage program and a qualifying nonprofit organization using internationally recognized scientific criteria. These areas have been found to be necessary to conserve populations of wild waterfowl, upland game birds, songbirds, and other birds native to and migrating through Washington, and contain the habitats that birds are dependent upon for breeding, migration, shelter, and sustenance.
"Instrument of dedication" means any written document intended to convey an interest in real property pursuant to chapter 64.04 RCW.
     (((7))) (8) "Natural heritage resources" means the plant community types, aquatic types, unique geologic types, and special plant and animal species and their critical habitat as defined in the natural heritage plan established under RCW 79.70.030.
     (((8))) (9) "Plan" means the natural heritage plan as established under RCW 79.70.030.
     (((9))) (10) "Program" means the natural heritage program as established under RCW 79.70.030.
     (((10))) (11) "Qualifying nonprofit organization" means a national nonprofit organization, or a branch of a national nonprofit organization, that conserves and restores natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitat.
     (12) "Register" means the Washington register of natural area preserves as established under RCW 79.70.030.

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