Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

PO Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504-0100



The Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Division is composed of eight attorneys and five professional staff.  The division represents the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in legal matters before state and federal courts and administrative tribunals.  The division advises the client agencies on a broad array of natural resource and land management issues, criminal matters relating to exercise of the clients’ enforcement authorities, and assists local prosecutors in enforcement of the state Fish and Wildlife Code.

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Legal Services Provided

The division provides advice and litigation services regarding a wide variety of issues associated with managing state natural resources.  These issues include hunting and fishing regulation, endangered species, habitat protection, tribal issues, rule adoption, hydropower licensure, law enforcement, risk management, real property transactions and management, public works, concessions, and other contracts.  Litigation typically involves the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Indian tribal rights, the State Environmental Policy Act, the Growth Management Act, real property disputes, contracts, and appeals of licensing actions, civil forfeitures, hydraulic project approvals, forest practice permits, and agency adoption of administrative rules.

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Major Issues

Indian Law:  The division represents the State of Washington and Department of Fish and Wildlife in various matters concerning the scope of tribal hunting and fishing rights and application of state law to tribal members in various situations.  Many of these matters arise under the courts’ continuing jurisdiction in U.S. v. Washington, the Indian fishing rights case that resulted in the famous 1974 Boldt decision, and U.S. v. Oregon, a similar matter that focused on Indian fishing rights in the Columbia River basin.   We also provide significant assistance to the Department of Fish and Wildlife in its efforts to forge co-management agreements with the tribes concerning fish and wildlife.

Hydropower Issues:  The division represents WDFW and the State Parks and Recreation Commission in proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and federal courts concerning the licensing of hydropower dams in the state.  These are lengthy and complex proceedings, involving balancing the economics of electrical power generation and protection of wildlife, fish, and other natural resources impacted by the presence and operation of the facilities.  The division assists its clients in their efforts to ensure that impacts to resources they manage are given appropriate consideration in the FERC process.

Land and Resource Management Issues:  The division provides significant assistance to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Parks and Recreation Commission on a variety of land management issues.  These include resolving real property disputes, counsel and defense of agency land management decisions, and assistance with habitat protection and restoration. 

Rulemaking and Defense:  The division assists WDFW and State Parks in their rulemaking processes.  WDFW adopts a large quantity of administrative rules regulating hunting and fishing by recreational and commercial fishers.  We defend such regulations when challenged.

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