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Key OR F&W Commission meet is Friday

07/29/14 -- The Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2015-2017 proposed budget request for approval when it meets Aug. 1 at ODFW Headquarters.

The meeting begins at 8 am and the Commission will work through several agenda items including the 2015 Sport Fishing Regulations and the 2014-2015 Game Bird Regulations. See budget. The 2015-17 budget proposal (see Exhibit B) includes a fee increase for recreational and commercial licenses that if approved, would take effect in 2016. It also makes program cuts and shifts costs for some programs on to the State’s general fund revenues. The package that will be presented to the Commission will include changes to the original budget proposal in response to public comments. Upon Commission approval, the proposed budget must be submitted to the Governor for his consideration. Final determination of the ODFW budget would come from the 2015 Oregon State Legislature.

2014-15 Upland and Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons:
Most migratory game bird proposals must still receive federal approval which will not occur until July 31. Based on waterfowl population surveys and possible federal season frameworks, ODFW anticipates proposing another liberal 107-day duck season that would open concurrently in duck zones 1 and 2 on October 11. Pheasant, chukar/Hungarian partridge, and eastern Oregon quail seasons would also open Oct. 11.

Additionally, ODFW anticipates proposing the following changes to last year’s waterfowl seasons:

  • Decrease the canvasback daily bag limit from two to one per day.
  • Remove the cackling and Aleutian Canada goose bag limit restrictions in both the NW general and NW permit Oregon goose zones. The bag limit would be four Canada geese per day, except for dusky Canada geese in the NW Permit Zone.
  • Increase the white-fronted goose bag limit from six to 10 per day except in Lake County where the bag limit would remain one per day.
  • Add late-winter white-fronted and white goose seasons in Lake and Harney Counties similar to those in already held in Klamath and Malheur counties. Summer Lake Wildlife Area and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge would be closed during the late-winter hunt timeframe (Jan. 26 – March 10).
  • Set a bag limit of 20 white geese per day during late-winter hunts in Klamath, Lake, and Harney counties. The bag limit is already 20 white geese per day in Malheur County.
  • Increase the bag limit for Canada geese from four to six per day during the entire season in the South Coast Zone.
  • Increase the bag limit for mourning doves from 10 to 15 per day and increase the mourning dove season length from 30 to 60 days.
  • Shift the opening date for the NW Permit and General goose zones forward by two weeks so the season would open on Oct. 18, similar to seasons prior to 2011.
  • Increase the overall dusky Canada goose quota in the NW Permit Zone from 90 to 165 geese for the season.

Finally, ODFW proposes to open an area of the Columbia River (from the railroad bridge at Celilo to Arlington) to game bird hunting. Both resident and migratory Canada geese have increased dramatically in this area, and other game bird populations are also healthy.
Though the change wouldn’t take effect until 2015, ODFW is proposing that the eastside reservation system at Sauvie Island Wildlife Area change from first-come, first served to a random draw. This is to allow all hunters to have an equal chance to hunt in their preferred area.

2015-20 Upland Game Bird Framework:
The Commission will also be asked to adopt a regulatory framework for the 2015-20 upland game bird seasons. Upland bird season frameworks are adopted on a five-year basis to provide consistency to wildlife managers and bird hunters. Proposals that would change 2015-2020 regulations from current season structures are listed below; the earliest they would take effect is Sept. 1, 2015:

  • Extend quail, chukar, Hungarian partridge seasons until Jan. 31 in Umatilla and Morrow counties (currently close Dec. 31).
  • Extend eastern Oregon forest grouse until Jan. 31 (currently closes Dec. 31).
  • Increase spring turkey season bag limit to three statewide; daily bag limit will remain at one.
  • Allow retention of fully-feathered head or wing for identification in the field.

Changes to wildlife management areas
The Commission will be asked to consolidate wildlife management area and public river access rules into one OAR Division 008 (from four different places in rule and regulation) and add some ODFW managed lands not called out in current regulations into the rules. Another topic will be adjusting wildlife area parking permit language to clarify that anyone who drives a motor vehicle to the area must display a parking permit, which will address concerns from area users.
In other actions, the Commission also will be asked to:

  • Approve $773,819.50 for five restoration and 15 enhancement projects approved by the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Board.
  • Consider changes to the commercial Dungeness crab fishery, including regulations to implement a post-season gear recovery program and changes to the season opening process recommended by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee.
  • Appoint several members to the Commercial Fishery Permit Board.

Other Commission business:
2015 Sport Fishing Regulations/2014 Coastal Salmon Seasons
The Commission will be asked to adopt the 2015 Sport Fishing Regulations. Most of the changes for 2015 are housekeeping actions related to corrections, formatting changes and simplification.
Some additional regulation proposals include:

  • Permanent extension of the spring Chinook season in Three Rivers (NW Zone).
  • More restrictive bag limits and gear restrictions on the Chetco and Winchuck rivers (SW Zone) to protect wild fall Chinook.
  • An increase in the steelhead daily bag limit to four in the Santiam Basin (Willamette Zone).
  • A permanent fall Chinook fishery on the lower Deschutes (Central Zone).
  • Changing the smallmouth bass regulations on the John Day River (NE Zone), back to the zone regulations.

The Commission also will consider the 2014 coastal Chinook and coho salmon seasons. In general, the proposed 2014 season will be very similar to the 2013 seasons. For Chinook, ODFW staff has proposed more liberal seasonal bag limits on the Siletz and Yaquina rivers, and slightly more restrictive bags on the Chetco. The staff is also recommending closing the Winchuck River to fishing in 2014 based on 2013 and projected 2014 returns.
For coho, the proposed daily and seasonal bag limits and open fishing periods will be identical to the 2013 season, except for a reduced quota on the Umpqua River and minor date changes.
The proposed 2014 coastal fall salmon seasons are available on the ODFW web page.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. Public testimony before the Commission will be held first thing Friday morning, just after the adoption of temporary rules. Persons seeking to testify on issues not on the formal agenda may do so by making arrangements with the ODFW Director’s Office, at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting, by calling 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044.
Reasonable accommodations will be provided as needed for individuals requesting assistive hearing devices, sign language interpreters or large-print materials. Individuals needing these types of accommodations may call the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
Members of the public unable to attend the meeting can see a live-stream video of the meeting at the ODFW Commission page.

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