Photo courtesy of Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikemedia Commons


Ducks Unlimited works in statehouses around the country to advocate for legislation and policies that support DU’s conservation efforts. Washington is no exception. Ducks Unlimited’s policy team had a busy legislative session tracking several bills that had the potential to impact Ducks Unlimited members and DU’s core mission.

Here’s a roundup of the bills that DU was following when the Washington legislative session concluded earlier this spring.

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program: Ducks Unlimited worked closely with our partners to secure a record $120 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. This money will help fund wetlands and outdoor recreation projects in Washington. The program also provides important local “matching” funds to secure federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act funding for DU’s Washington habitat projects.

Nonprofit Fundraising Reform: Washington has some of the most challenging rules and regulations when it comes to nonprofit and event fundraising. Not only are online raffles and mail-in sweepstakes prohibited, but rules and regulations are so burdensome that it often leaves DU and other conservation nonprofits with few options to raise money for habitat projects. This year, Ducks Unlimited convened a coalition of Washington nonprofits to introduce Senate Bill 5704. Four Republicans and four Democrats were lead sponsors. This bill’s bipartisan support allowed the coalition to have two productive meetings with the Washington State Gambling Commission whose input DU and its partners are using to refine SB 5704 so it can pass the next legislative session.

Fish and Wildlife Commission Reform: In recent years, there have been significant changes in the composition and philosophies of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. The governor appoints a nine-person board whose members set hunting and fishing regulations and manage our fish and wildlife populations. Over the past few years, anti-hunting organizations have gained a foothold on the board through an opaque process that limited input from hunters and anglers, whose donations, license fees and taxes have traditionally paid for the bulk of state wildlife funding.

In response, Ducks Unlimited established the Washington Fish and Wildlife Conservation Partnership, a new and powerful coalition of 25 hunting, fishing and conservation organizations focused on ensuring hunters and anglers continue to have a voice on the commission.

The coalition also authored Senate Bill 5675, which would establish a fair and transparent nomination process for commissioners. This bill would create a nominations committee representing a diverse range of stakeholders which would present a slate of candidates for the governor’s nomination. It would also establish standards and qualifications for commission members as well as a removal process for members who do not follow the commission’s mandate. The legislature did not take up SB 5675, but Ducks Unlimited will reintroduce it next session.

Firearms Legislation: Ducks Unlimited and its coalition partners made sure lawmakers were aware of the impacts the following three firearms bills could have on conservation in Washington:

House Bill 1240: This bill, which takes effect immediately, bans the sale of a list of semiautomatic weapons with certain features that the legislature deemed to be “assault weapons.” DU worked to ensure that this did not include common semi-automatic shotguns and other firearms typically used to hunt waterfowl and other species.

House Bill 1143: This bill takes effect January 1. It creates new gun-safety training requirements to purchase a firearm. Existing hunter-safety programs do not count. The bill also will require the purchaser of a firearm to wait 10 days before the owner takes the gun into his or her possession. DU expressed concerns that these new requirements could discourage new hunter participation. Ducks Unlimited will continue to advocate for allowing hunter safety programs to count as gun-safety training.

Senate Bill 5078: This bill, which takes effect July 23, prohibits the marketing of firearms to those under 21 and will allow potential lawsuits against gun sellers and distributors if they do not adopt “reasonable” controls to keep people prohibited from owning firearms from acquiring them.

Conservation and state habitat programs in Washington greatly depend on the funds generated from sales and taxes on firearms and ammunition. That’s why this legislative session, Ducks Unlimited and its coalition partners sought to minimize the impacts firearm safety bills would have on conservation and hunter participation as well as DU’s fundraising and marketing efforts.

Ducks Unlimited is working closely with legal advisors to deliver guidance to staff and volunteers in Washington to ensure all firearms laws are followed at DU events and through our marketing materials and publications. DU will continue to work closely with our coalition partners to follow court challenges and work with lawmakers to address concerns about these and other firearm bills as they are introduced.

As always, Ducks Unlimited strives for positive conservation solutions in Washington and is already gearing up to advance DU’s core mission during the next legislative session.

About Ducks Unlimited: Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetlands. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved 16 million acres across the continent and 68,000 acres in Washington.

Media Contact:

Ryan Sabalow, Western Region - Communications Coordinator

(916) 805-1210