Department of Natural Resources Reverses Course on Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan
Following eight years of planning, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) suspended work on its draft Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan (“HCP”). DNR had proposed to apply conservation measures in the HCP to activities on over 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands. On March 17, 2015, DNR notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA that DNR intends to undertake a stakeholder engagement effort to discuss the pros and cons of adopting an HCP, and to analyze legal questions raised during the recent legislative session. If DNR proceeds with an HCP, DNR intends to revise sections of the draft HCP covering overwater structures and log-booming.
DNR’s change in direction follows adoption of Senate Bill 5959. Proposed by Senator Hatfield, the bill acknowledges the potential value of an HCP, while expressing concern regarding how the HCP would limit options for the state. The bill requires DNR to withdraw the Draft HCP within 30 days, and take certain consultative and collaborative actions before proposing a revised HCP. The bill is scheduled for hearing by the House on March 19, 2015. For more information, contact Bradford Doll at email@example.com.
- To view the letter by Commissioner Goldmark announcing DNR’s decision, click here.