Editor Note: The following letter, authored by 18th District Rep. Larry Hoff and signed on to by 22 other lawmakers, was sent to Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday, March 27.
Dear Governor Inslee:
Our state, along with the country and the rest of the world, is experiencing a challenge of immense size and scope that has radically altered the daily routine of life for so many.
Your task of balancing public safety with individual rights is not an easy one. However, we wonder if your “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order might be a bit too narrow in what it allows Washingtonians to take part in over the next two weeks and perhaps longer.
One of the four essential activities permitted under your order is: "Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running or biking, but only if appropriate social distancing practices are used."
We were surprised to see recreational fishing not included on that list, and even more surprised when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the activity to the public altogether.
This is a time of deep anxiety and fear for Washingtonians, many of whom are struggling to find a way to decompress and enjoy life amidst the chaos. It's a fact of life that very few activities are as relaxing as casting a line from the banks of a river or from a boat in the middle of a lake. It's an escape, much like walking, hiking, running or biking.
It's also a fact that many of our veterans recreationally fish, whether to simply clear their minds or to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. As with all Washingtonians, we are concerned for their well-being during this time, and want to ensure they don't suffer as a result of “Stay Home, Stay Healthy.”
We firmly believe there is a way to balance public health while also allowing folks to fish on Washington's many rivers and lakes. We would ask you to consider adding recreational fishing to your list of allowable essential activities under Stay Home-Stay Healthy.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Rep. Larry Hoff
18th Legislative District