WDFW Director Resigns Under Pressure


March 1, 2018

Washington Department of Fish and wildlife director Jim Unsworth has resigned under pressure on several issues, including a controversial management plan for Chinook salmon in Puget Sound.

WDFW officials said his resignation would be effective Feb. 7 and that a national search would be initiated for the post.

Unsworth said in a letter to Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Brad Smith that while his three years as director had been a challenging, educational and often rewarding experience that it was time for him to pursue other professional and personal goals in wildlife and natural resources management. Smith, in turn, praised Unsworth for his work “guiding the department through the complex challenges that come with managing natural resources in Washington.” That included a multi-year initiative that Unsworth initiated shortly after he became director to strengthen the departments relationship with communities and increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation, WDFW said.

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But Unsworth has been criticized for wildlife management and also by sports fishermen for the Puget Sound Chinook management plan submitted by state and treaty tribal co-managers to NOAA Fisheries in December.

On January 24, the same date that Unsworth’s resignation was announced, WDFW advised in an online update that NOAA fisheries had advised the co-managers that the plan was insufficient for full evaluation and provided direction on necessary revisions.


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