Pacific County Assessor’s Office
OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to select a new director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during a meeting June 14-16 in Olympia.
Of more immediate local interest, the commission is expected to approve buying a 2.36-acres homesite along the Chinook River as part of a larger salmon-restoration plan.
The commission will convene at 8 a.m. each day. On Thursday, June 14, the group will meet at the Doubletree Hotel, 415 Capitol Way North. On Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, the commission will meet in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE.
Commissioners interviewed seven candidates for the director’s position in May before selecting three finalists. Commission staff on June 8 refused a request to disclose the identities of the finalists to the Chinook Observer.
However, according to other sources, the finalists are the department’s current Acting Director Joe Stohr, who previously was WDFW’s deputy director; Jennifer Quan, branch chief at NOAA Fisheries in Lacy and previously government affairs director at WDFW; and Kelly Susewind, director of administrative services & environmental policy at the Washington Department of Ecology.
Interviews with the finalists will take place during an executive session scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 14. Members may discuss the status of the selection process in a public session following the interviews.
Commissioners are scheduled to consider the selection and appointment of the new director at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 16.
Former WDFW Director Jim Unsworth resigned in January after heading the department for three years. Unsworth didn’t prove to be a good match with the department and state citizens.
“It is a difficult job,” he said in a post-resignation interview. “Washington is a tough state. … It’s difficult to please folks.”
Among other agenda items, the commission plans to discuss adding to WDFW’s land inventory in the Chinook River watershed, which has long been eyed as an area of high potential for improving salmon habitat in the lower undammed portion of the Columbia River system.
“This proposal is to acquire 2(+/-) acres in Pacific County for the reconnection of Chinook Unit estuary wetlands to the Columbia River. This project is part of a larger restoration effort to provide access for adult and juvenile salmonids through increased tidal flows onto the Chinook Wildlife Area,” WDFW staff said in a briefing document. “Acquisitions are a critical step toward providing more flexibility in tide gate management at the State Route 101 and Chinook River culverts.”
The property’s current owners are Kevin and Jayme Martin of Oakridge, Oregon. The agreed sale price is $170,000, with the funds coming from Bonneville Power Administration, which has also agreed to cover operation and maintenance costs. The address is 149 Chinook Valley Road.
Agency proposals to restore habitat along the Chinook River have in the past sometimes generated controversy, with neighbors expressing concerns about changes in local hydrology.