First-ever Statewide Biodiversity Committee Created - Goal is to craft comprehensive blueprint for biodiversity protection
Seattle, WA —12/31/02—In response to legislation passed earlier this year, a group of leaders in both the public and private sectors has been established to create the state’s first comprehensive blueprint for biodiversity protection. The group includes business leaders, tribal representatives, agricultural leaders, timber industry representatives, academics, key federal, state and local officials and members of conservation groups.
The state’s new Biodiversity Conservation Initiative was mandated by the legislature in the 2002 session. The bill calls for the creation of a temporary committee to examine, among other things, how state policies affect biological diversity, what non-regulatory incentives are needed and how to make information about biodiversity protection more accessible to a wide range of land managers.
The goal is to develop recommendations that, if enacted, would enable the state to move away from crisis-driven natural resource polices, focus on the protection of entire ecosystems and use thoughtful planning that works closely with those whose livelihoods depend upon the health of the state’s lands.
Recommendations are due to both the governor and the legislature by October 2003. The Nature Conservancy of Washington is managing the committee process.
"This is an incredibly important effort," said David Weekes, state director of The Nature Conservancy of Washington. "We’ve already lost so much. The good news is that Washington is still a place of enormous diversity and that we have people – such as those on this newly formed committee – willing to work together to find innovative solutions. Partnerships between public and private landowners are critical to our success."
Yakima County Commissioner Jesse Palacios, a member of the committee, agreed. "The web of life knows no boundaries. The only way we’re going to make meaningful steps in biodiversity protection is by working with landowners so that we can protect whole habitats on both private and public lands."
Other committee members include Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg; Stan Finkelstein, executive director of the Association of Washington Cities; Terry Hunt, state master of the
Washington State Grange; Terry Williams, natural resources director at the Tulalip Tribes; Ken Risenhoover, wildlife director at Port Blakely Tree Farms; Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger; and Chelan County Commissioner Ron Walter. (A complete list of committee members is attached.)
The group held its first meeting on Dec. 12 in North Bend. Its next meeting will by in Olympia in January.
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