State wildlife leader steps down

Miranda Wecker

OLYMPIA — Pacific County resident Miranda Wecker stepped down from her longtime seat on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on Aug. 6.

Larry Carpenter, current vice-chairman of the commission, was appointed last week to fill out the remainder of Wecker’s term through Dec. 31, 2018. Carpenter, of Mount Vernon, first joined the commission in December 2011.

Don McIsaac, a recently retired executive director of the Pacific Fishery Management Council from 2000 to 2016, was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to fill an open commission seat. The PFMC oversees fisheries management in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. McIsaac previously worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the then-Washington Department of Fisheries.

The WFWC is a nine-member board appointed by the governor to set policies for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and select its director.

McIsaac’s appointment met with enthusiastic approval by commercial and recreational fisheries experts.

“Washington state can only benefit from having a man of his background, knowledge and experience on the commission,” Irene Martin, a commercial fishing advocate from Skamokawa, said last week.

Northwest Sportsman reported that Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association has known McIsaac for over three decades and worked with him promoting Willapa Bay in the 1980s. He said McIsaac is “an outstanding selection” and a “fair, open-minded guy….” Floor told the regional hunting and fishing magazine that McIsaac will be an important and experienced member of the commission, with a depth of biological expertise.

Wecker, who lives in the Nemah area, served on the commission for 12 years and as chair from January 2009 to January 2015. She was first appointed in May 2005 by then-Gov. Christine Gregoire, reappointed in January 2007 and again in 2013, when Inslee said she had “done an excellent job in leading the commission’s work on several challenging fish and wildlife policy issues.”

Here in Pacific County, WFWC decisions and policies did not always please locals. In May 2015, commercial gillnetters carried protest signs at a Long Beach event where she was a guest speaker. During her time on the commission, it acted to end commercial salmon fishing on the main stem of the Columbia River and to designate escaped hatchery Chinook salmon in Willapa Bay as a “natural” run, deserving of additional protection and curtailing gillnetting opportunities.

On the other hand, Northwest Sportsman reported upon her retirement that “Sportfishing leaders were lauding her accomplishments and thanking her for her service.”

“Miranda has demonstrated unprecedented leadership during her tenure on the commission,” Floor told the magazine. “She never ducked the tough issues and embraced conservation while setting refreshing direction of managing the resource for wise economic use. She will be missed for her leadership, direction and intellect.”

In a prepared statement, Wecker reflected on her time on the WFWC.

“I leave the Commission after 12 years with deep gratitude for the opportunity I had to contribute to the governance process. I leave more convinced than ever that it is vital that citizens step forward, with good will and optimism, and engage their talents constructively in the formulation of policies. Government is always a work-in-progress and it can be made better by public participation. Government service is honorable work with many decent, energetic and skilled professionals involved in it,” she said.

“I had the good fortune to serve during a time in which we had hardworking commissioners with exceptional experience and expertise,” she added. “Very fortunate.

“The more I learned, the more I was aware of the questions that remained to be asked. Humility is the best posture given the importance of what we do, the inadequacy of our knowledge, and the limits of our capacities. With this in mind, I am convinced that we should treat each other with patience, good will, and honesty,” she said.

She said she is proud of “the major policy reforms that were adopted to emphasize conservation and accountability” but knows they “did not please everyone.”

Wecker moved to Pacific County in the 1990s to work on the Willapa Alliance sustainable development project and later played a major role at the University of Washington’s Olympic Natural Resources Center near Forks.

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