The following rules are only applicable and enforceable when the bald eagle is listed under state law as threatened or endangered.
The purpose of these rules is to protect the habitat and thereby maintain the population of the bald eagle so that the species is not classified as threatened, endangered or sensitive in Washington state. This can best be accomplished by promoting cooperative efforts to manage for eagle habitat needs through a process which is sensitive to the landowner goals as well. The following rules are designed to promote such cooperative management.
These rules are promulgated pursuant to RCW 77.12.655.
"Communal roost site" means all of the physical features surrounding trees used for night roosting that are important to the suitability of the roost for eagle use. These features include flight corridors, sources of disturbance, trees in which eagles spend the night, trees used for perching during arrival or departure and other trees or physical features, such as hills, ridges, or cliffs that provide wind protection.
"Cultural activities" means activities conducted to foster the growth of agricultural plants and animals.
"Department" means department of fish and wildlife.
"Endangered" means a species which is seriously threatened with extirpation throughout all or a significant portion of its range within Washington.
"Government entities" means all agencies of federal, state and local governments.
"Landowner" means any individual, private, partnership, nonprofit, municipal, corporate, city, county, or state agency or entity which exercises control over a bald eagle habitat whether such control is based on legal or equitable title, or which manages or holds in trust land in Washington state.
"Nest tree" means any tree that contains a bald eagle nest or has contained a nest.
"Nest site" means all of the physical features surrounding bald eagle nests that are important to normal breeding behavior. These features include alternate and potential nest trees, perch trees, vegetative screening, foraging area, frequently used flight paths, and sources of disturbance. This site is also referred to as the territory defended by a breeding pair of eagles.
"Perch tree" means a tree that is consistently used by eagles. It is often close to a nest or feeding site and is used for resting, hunting, consumption of prey, mating display and as a sentry post to defend the nest.
"Predacides" means chemicals used to kill or control problem wildlife.
"Region" means an ecological/geographic area that forms a unit with respect to eagles, e.g., Hood Canal, lower Columbia River, outer coast and south Puget Sound.
"Sensitive" means any wildlife species native to the state of Washington that is vulnerable or declining and is likely to become endangered or threatened in a significant portion of its range within the state without cooperative management or removal of threats.
"Site management plan" means a legal agreement between the department and the landowner for management of a bald eagle nest or roost site. This plan may be a list of conditions on a permit or a more detailed, site-specific plan.
"Threatened" means a species that could become endangered within Washington without active management or removal of threats.
The department shall make available to other governmental entities, interest groups, landowners and individuals information regarding the location and use pattern of eagle nests and communal roosts.
The department shall itself and through cooperative efforts (such as memoranda of understandings pursuant to chapter 39.34 RCW) work with other government agencies and organizations to improve the database for nest and communal roost site activity and productivity and to protect eagle habitats through site management plans.
The department's goal shall be to identify, catalog and prioritize eagle nest or communal roost sites. The department shall notify permitting agencies of nesting or roost site locations.
When a landowner applies for a permit for a land-use activity that involves land containing or adjacent to an eagle nest or communal roost site, the permitting agency shall notify the department.
If the department determines that the proposed activity would adversely impact eagle habitat, a site management plan shall be required. The department, a permitting agency, or wildlife biologist may work with the landowner to develop a plan. The department has final approval authority on all plans.
It is recognized that normal on-going agricultural activities of land preparation, cultivating, planting, harvesting, other cultural activities, grazing and animal-rearing activities in existing facilities do not have significant adverse consequences for eagles and therefore do not require a site management plan. New building construction, conversion of lands from agriculture to other uses, application of predacides and aerial pesticide spraying, may, following a conference with the department, be subject to the site management planning process described in these rules.
Emergency situations, such as insect infestation of crops, requires immediate action on the site management plan or special permission to address the impending crisis by the department.
The purpose of the site management plan is to provide for the protection of specific bald eagle habitat in such a way as to recognize the special characteristics of the site and the landowner's property rights, goals and pertinent options. To this end, every land owner shall have fair access to the process including available incentives and benefits. Any relevant factor may be considered, including, but not limited to, the following:
The status of the eagle population in the region.
The useful life of the nest or communal roost trees and condition of the surrounding forest; the topography; accessibility and visibility; and existing and alternative flight paths, perch trees, snags and potential alternative nest and communal roost trees.
Eagle behavior and historical use patterns, available food sources, and vulnerability to disturbance.
The surrounding land-use conditions, including degree of development and human use.
Land ownership, landowner ability to manage, and flexibility of available landowner options.
Appropriate and acceptable incentive mechanisms such as conservation easements, transfer or purchase of development rights, leases, mutual covenants, or land trade or purchase.
Published recommendations for eagle habitat protection of other government entities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The site management plan may provide for
Tailoring the timing, duration or physical extent of activities to minimize disturbance to the existing eagle habitat and, where appropriate, identifying and taking steps to encourage and create alternative eagle habitat; and
Establishing a periodic review of the plan to monitor whether:
The plan requires amendment in response to changing eagle and landowner circumstances
The terms of the plan comply with applicable laws and regulations,
The parties to the plan are complying with its terms.
The site management plan may also provide for implementing landowner incentive and compensation mechanisms through which the existing eagle habitat can be maintained or enhanced.
Real property interests may be acquired and agreements entered into which could enhance protection of bald eagle habitat. These include fee simple acquisition, land trades, conservation easements, transfer or purchase of development rights, leases, and mutual covenants. Acquisition shall be dependent upon having a willing seller and a willing buyer. Whatever interest or method of protection is preferable will depend on the particular use and ownership characteristics of a site. In discussing conservation objectives with private or public landowners, the department shall explore with the landowner the variety of protection methods which may be appropriate and available.
The following criteria and priorities shall be considered by the department when it is contemplating acquiring an interest in a bald eagle habitat.
Relative ecological quality, as compared to similar habitats
Ecological viability - The ability of the habitat and eagle use to persist over time
Defensibility - The existence of site conditions adequate to protect the eagle habitat from unnatural encroachments
Manageability - The ability to manage the site to maintain suitable eagle habitat
Proximity to food source
Proximity to other protected eagle habitat
Proximity to department land or other public land
Eagle population density and history of eagle use in the area
The natural diversity of native species, plant communities, aquatic types, and geologic features on the site.
Degree of threat
Availability of funding
Existence of willing donor or seller and prior agency interest
In general, priority shall be given to the most threatened high quality eagle habitats with associated natural values which require the least management.
The department and the landowner shall attempt to develop a mutually agreeable site management plan within 30 days of the original notice to the department.
Should agreement not be reached, the landowner may request an informal settlement conference with the department.
If the landowner chooses not to use the informal settlement conference process or if resolution is not reached, the department shall within 15 days provide a site management plan to the landowner.
A request for an appeal shall be in writing and shall be received by the department during office hours within thirty days of the issuance of the final site management plan. Requests for appeal shall be mailed to Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, Washington 98501-1091, or hand delivered to 1111 Washington Street S.E., Wildlife Program, Fifth floor. If there is no timely request for an appeal, the site management plan shall be unappealable.
The written request for an appeal shall be plainly labeled as "request for formal appeal" and shall contain the following:
The name, address, and phone number of the person requesting the appeal;
The specific site management plan that the person contests;
The date of the issuance of the site management plan;
Specific relief requested; and
The attorney's name, address, and phone number, if the person is represented by legal counsel.
The appeal may be conducted by the director, the director's designee, or by an administrative law judge (ALJ) appointed by the office of administrative hearings. If conducted by an ALJ, the ALJ shall issue an initial order pursuant to RCW 34.05.461. The director or the director's designee shall review the initial order and enter a final order as provided by RCW 34.05.464.
Failure of a landowner to comply with the processes set forth in these rules or with the provisions of a site management plan approved by the department constitutes a misdemeanor as set forth in RCW 77.15.130.