Fish and wildlife are public resources. Although the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is charged with protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife species, the agency has very limited authority over the habitat on which animals depend. Instead, protection of Washington’s fish and wildlife resources is currently achieved through voluntary actions of landowners and through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), Growth Management Act (GMA), Forest Practices Act (FPA), Shoreline Management Act (SMA), and similar planning processes that primarily involve city and county governments. Landowners, agencies, governments, and members of the public have a shared responsibility to protect and maintain fish and wildlife resources for present and future generations; the information contained in this document is intended to assist all entities in this endeavor.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has identified those fish and wildlife resources that are a priority for management and conservation. Priority habitats are those habitat types with unique or significant value to many fish or wildlife species. Priority species are those fish and wildlife species requiring special efforts to ensure their perpetuation because of their low numbers, sensitivity to habitat alteration, tendency to form vulnerable aggregations, or because they are of commercial, recreational, or tribal importance. Descriptions of those habitats and species designated as priority are published in the Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) List.
Management recommendations for Washington’s priority habitats and species are guidelines based on the best available scientific information and are designed to meet the following goals:
- Maintain or enhance the structural attributes and ecological functions of habitat needed to support healthy
populations of fish and wildlife.
- Maintain or enhance populations of priority species within their present and/or historical range in order to
prevent future declines.
- Restore species that have experienced significant declines.