By: Rich Finger | WA Department of Fish & Wildlife, Lands Operations Manager

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) manages nearly 1 million acres of land, divided into 33 wildlife management areas. These areas attract millions of visitors who hunt, fish and observe wildlife in their natural environments. Each area is guided by a management plan that addresses wildlife species and habitats, public recreation, habitat restoration, operations and maintenance (such as weed management and facility improvements), and other activities to meet the department’s mission of preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems. Plans are revised periodically to reflect current conditions and the progress of past activities, and to identify new management priorities. WDFW involves citizens on advisory committees to help develop each management plan and provide feedback throughout the process.

WDFW started a statewide process in 2012 to update all wildlife area management plans with an anticipated completion date of around 2023.  Each plan takes about 18 months to complete and generally involves about 5 internal planning team meetings, 3 wildlife area advisory committee meetings, 2 public meetings, and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process.  To date, seven plans have been completed including Swanson Lakes, Klickitat, Sinlahekin & Scotch Creek, Oak Creek, Snoqualmie, Chelan, and Blue Mountains.  

These plans can be found at:

The Columbia Basin Wildlife Area began their 18-month planning process during spring of 2019 by organizing a Wildlife Area Advisory Committee (WAAC) comprised of individuals representing stakeholders such as hunters, anglers, falconers, rock climbers, and agriculture, as well as local regulatory authorities such as the weed board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.  The WAAC will be engaged throughout plan development to advocate for the interests of the stakeholders they represent.  

More information about WDFW advisory groups can be found at:

The Columbia Basin Wildlife Area (CBWLA) consists of 13 units and totals 192,000 acres. The Wildlife Area provides opportunities for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreational opportunities like bird watching, while preserving and enhancing wildlife and their habitats.  Most of the wildlife area occurs within the Columbia Basin Project (and 133,000 acres are owned by Bureau of Reclamation and managed by WDFW under a 25-year agreement). The new management plan for the CBWLA will develop goals and objectives for: 1) waterfowl, upland, and big game hunting opportunities and habitat improvements, 2) managing diverse recreational opportunities, 3) maintaining and enhancing priority habitats and species, 4) road management, 5) maintaining and enhancing ecological integrity, 6) maintaining and enhancing water access sites, 7) developing partnerships and neighbor relations, and 8) training of WLA staff.

For more information about WDFW lands see

For more information about, or to provide comment to, the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Plan, please contact Rich Finger, Lands Operations Manager, WDFW Ephrata Regional Office, 509-754-4624 or Chad Eidson, Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Manager, Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Headquarters, 509-765-6641.  

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