Director’s Bulletin | May/June 2023

News and updates from WDFW Director Kelly Susewind

From recovering species to providing habitat assistance to landowners, setting seasons, and checking licenses; there is no shortage of critical work being accomplished by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) employees every day. Our work contributes to a robust outdoor economy and to our way of life.

This spring, we celebrated staff and partners with our annual agency awards ceremony. We presented numerous awards, but I wanted to draw special attention to the following people and organizations that do so much for WDFW and the residents we serve.

Our employee of the year was awarded to Bill Baker, who serves as the District 1 Fish Biologist in Colville. He oversees and manages the district recreational fisheries on behalf of Washington’s anglers and works toward the conservation of species. Bill has been a local foundational leader of a District 1 Culture Improvement Plan/Project that is intended to create a more positive and inclusive culture, improve morale, teamwork, and communication among and between District 1 staff, the Region, and Headquarters and identify actions that will assist local staff with relationships in the community.

Our manager of the year was awarded to Rachel Blomker. Rachel leads our Public Engagement Division and was recognized for her persistent positivity, grace, professionalism, and respect as she’s led a new team to enhance our outreach and engagement with the public. She demonstrates an incredible work ethic and gladly helps everyone with any questions. Rachel also gets her ‘boots on the ground’ by attending many public outreach events. Rachel is knowledgeable in many areas and is even more inspiring in her desire to learn more; you can feel her enthusiasm and commitment to improvement every day.

The landowner of the year went to HT Rea Farms located in southeast Washington. They are a fourth-generation Walla Walla Valley family farm focused on sustainable production of numerous crops. HT Rea Farms are great stewards of the land and the environment using new technology such as modern spray applicators and GPS-guided equipment helping reduce overlap, which in turn saves fuel, chemical, and staff hours, all to seek a balance between the environmental and economic risks associated with farming. HT Rea Farms have been working with WDFW since 2012, enrolled in Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements in working with the WDFW wildlife conflict staff and enrolling over 2,900 acres into WDFW’s Feel Free to Hunt and Hunt with Written Permission access programs. HT Rea Farms has also worked with staff in WDFW’s Habitat Program constructing a new bridge over a creek to move equipment more efficiently and safely between fields and not to incur additional damage to rock beds and creekbanks. HT Rea Farms works with our private lands biologists to enhance existing habitat at various locations that they farm as well as planting new wildlife habitat shrub plantings.

WDFW’s Volunteer of the Year award goes to Mike and Trudy Barker in Region 1. The Barkers have assisted WDFW in many capacities for several decades. Some of these efforts include assisting maintaining the Fish Trap Lake access area, monitoring the lake, and reporting information to the Region 1 Fish Program, offering to operate net-pens to enhance the fishery at that lake, and assisting with rehabs when they occur.

WDFW’s Organization of the Year was awarded to the Washington State Trail Blazers, a volunteer organization of about 75 people that contribute most of their time, energy, and knowledge helping WDFW maintain high lake fisheries. The Trail Blazers had their first meeting in December 1933, and for the past 90 years their members have participated in a variety of studies, wilderness protection activities, camp cleanups, stream restoration, beaver relocation, and trail maintenance. In 2022, dedicated individuals from the club made 141 trips into the wilderness, backpacking a total of 39,804 fish into lakes in the Cascades and Olympics.

Finally, I presented the Director’s Award to Ben Maletzke. Ben has done an outstanding job balancing the day-to-day operations of all things wolf recovery over the last year. When I called Ben to let him know he was my choice for the Director’s Award, he was in field collaring wolves. Ben and the team do an outstanding job conserving wolves and working to ensure that wolf recovery decisions are based on sound science.

I want to thank each of our 2,000 employees as well as all our volunteers. I could not be prouder to serve as your director and to support you in being successful in your positions. Thank you for all that you do in conserving fish and wildlife in Washington!


Kelly Susewind, Director

Plan your summer fishing trip: 2023–24 regulations now available

The Washington summer recreational salmon fishing season got off to a good start in several open marine areas of Puget Sound, the coast, and Columbia River, with more saltwater and freshwater fisheries set to begin in July. Anglers can expect similar fishing seasons to last year, along with some good opportunities in Puget Sound for an expected pink salmon return of 3.9 million later this summer. You can find the full 2023–24 Sport Fishing Rules online, or pick up a physical copy at local outdoor retailers and tackle shops. For the two-part salmon season planner blogs, visit WDFW’s Medium page. You can also learn more about the North of Falcon salmon season-setting process in this blog post, and about how WDFW works to set conservation-minded salmon seasons every year in our video “Sound Management: Conserving Pacific Northwest salmon through Cooperation” on YouTube.

Understanding conservation categories for Washington wildlife

Threatened, endangered, sensitive, protected … what does it all mean? In a recent blog post, we discuss different listing statuses for species in Washington in need of dedicated conservation action. The state and federal listing status is just one of several conservation categories that a species in Washington can be included in. These categories often overlap, but each has its own unique definition and purpose. Different categories help spotlight conservation needs, spur protective action, and guide recovery efforts.

Wolf Periodic Status Review comment period

We released the DRAFT Periodic Status Review for the Gray Wolf on May 18. The public is invited to comment on the draft by submitting written comments at, emailing comments to or by leaving a comment via voicemail message by calling 855–925–2801 and entering project code 2573. WDFW will accept comments until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2023. Refer to the news release for additional information.

New to hunting? Take a hunter education course this summer before the fall hunting seasons

The Department offers fully in-person hunter education courses as well as hybrid courses that combine online and in-person learning. The traditional classroom course, which is typically taught over multiple evenings and includes a field portion, is highly recommended for students under the age of 12 and for those seeking a valuable classroom experience. The hybrid course combines successful completion of an online course followed by a field skills evaluation where students receive hands-on training and evaluation by certified instructors. Learn more in our recent news release.

Clean, drain, and dry your vessel this boating season to prevent the spread of invasive species

Boating season is officially underway in Washington! To keep lakes, rivers, and other water bodies clean and beautiful, WDFW is asking the public to take a few simple steps to help avoid the spread of invasive species. WDFW is the lead agency for statewide management of aquatic invasive species. Zebra and quagga mussels are two of the aquatic invasive species of greatest concern — they clog pipes and mechanical systems of industrial plants, dams, water systems, utilities, locks, and hatcheries. Dedicated teams of WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) unit staff test and monitor waterbodies around the state for these invaders each spring through fall. In other invasive species news, we released an online map showing areas where New Zealand mud snails have been detected in Washington, and launched our new European Green Crab (EGC) Hub and May/June EGC Public Update.

Outdoor education on public lands

For the last three years, the North Central Educational Service District has worked with WDFW and a variety of community partners to bring youth from local schools to WDFW wildlife areas to explore how people can help wildlife and their habitats in the face of climate change. The STEAM in the Field Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) allows students to explore how wildlife area managers, volunteers, and community partners enhance habitats to support human recreation wildlife habitat. This spring, middle school students investigated habitat on the Desert Unit of the Columbia Wildlife Area. Learn more about their experience in our blog, Outdoor Education on Public Lands.

WDFW Trout Derby continues

The 2023 annual statewide Trout Derby continues through Oct. 31. This year’s derby boasts 872 prizes valued at $41,565, which equates to a whopping $47.67 average prize value! As of June 22, 413 tagged fish have been caught and prizes redeemed through the prize portal. There are still over 420 prizes left to be claimed including a canoe donated by Filson. Recent cooler temperatures are helping keep lakes cooler as well, which translates to more lively trout action as we look toward July. Our series of email blasts to inform anglers about this opportunity continues alongside this favorable weather. Learn more about fishing, hunting, and other outdoor opportunities at

Duckabush Estuary habitat restoration moves forward with state funding, shifts in federal policy

With Governor Inslee’s signing of the Capital Budget this spring, a plan to elevate Highway 101 and restore the Duckabush Estuary’s natural connection to nearby tidelands in Jefferson County is becoming more of a reality. Learn more on our project webpage. WDFW received $14 million in the recently signed budget. With a recent change in federal policy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will now share the cost of highway construction with the state, meaning the state’s required contribution to the project may be half of what was originally anticipated. Reference our blog post for more information.

Wildfire photo by Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Check fire restrictions before your next outdoor adventure

Before heading out to enjoy public lands, be sure you are familiar with campfire and other restrictions. Dependent upon regional fire conditions, varying restrictions are in place to reduce the chance of wildfires on properties managed by WDFW. Campfire and other restrictions generally go into effect in late June or early July and include fireworks, target shooting in some areas, and parking on areas of dry grass. You can find restrictions that are in effect at: or more information and updates on Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s webpage:

WDFW opens public feedback survey to begin three-year hunting season planning

We are beginning a three-year hunting season setting effort, and the public is invited to provide feedback. Public comments will be used to inform changes to hunting seasons in 2024–2026. The public comment period began June 15 and ends July 2. Comments may be submitted online through WDFW’s public scoping survey, via email, or via voicemail by calling 855–925–2801 and entering code 2576. Written comments may also be mailed to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife — Wildlife Program, PO Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504. Three-year season setting is an in-depth rule making process that allows WDFW to propose and collect public feedback on changes to Washington hunting laws. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission sets hunting seasons based on public input and staff recommendations.

Director’s Bulletins are also archived on the Director’s webpage



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.