This 190-acre tidal marsh (estuary) on Fir Island, west of and adjacent to Freshwater Slough, is predominantly vegetated by cattail and sedge and used extensively by waterfowl and other waterbirds. The area is used for waterfowl hunting, fishing, bird dog training and bird watching. The dike-top provides walking access for hunting and bird watching. The trail also attracts dog walkers and joggers. This unit includes a visitor information shelter with seating for about 50 people, a parking lot, and two toilet facilities.
The Headquarters unit was purchased beginning in 1948 with federal Pittman-Robertson funds for waterfowl hunting. Historically the site was managed to provide agricultural enhancements for winter waterfowl forage. With the Endangered Species Act listing of many salmonid species such as Chinook salmon, habitat management has since shifted to restore estuary habitat. The restoration design which included building setback levees, relocating the Wiley Slough tide gate farther inland, and removing part of the perimeter levee allow tidal and river flows to recreate channels and provide additional natural estuary habitat. This project was completed in the fall of 2009.
These changes in land management result in access changes for Wildlife Area users.
Pheasants will no longer be released on the Headquarters Unit
Seasonally flooded fields now have tidal flooding.
Field walk in access are impacted by tides.
Waterfowl hunting is limited to boats, dike-tops or hunting on foot during low tides.
The loop dike-top trail no longer exists and is replaced with a shorter out and back trail.
Birds of Prey
How to Get Here
Map and Driving Directions
Access Site #1
Driving Directions Take Interstate 5 to Exit 221, just south of Mount Vernon in Skagit County. Go west from the freeway and turn right on to Fir Island Road, following the sign for Conway/La Conner. In 1.8 miles, turn left onto Wylie Road and follow for 1 mile to a T-intersection and a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sign. Turn left and follow the signs to either of the two parking lots.
Parking/Restroom Information There are two parking areas, each with a restroom facility.
Other Information This Unit is closed during hours of darkness.
This is one of the most popular units on the Skagit Wildlife Area. Activities include duck hunting, wildlife viewing and dog training/walking. Waterfowl hunting seasons typically begins with the early goose and youth waterfowl hunt and opens again in mid-October to the end of January.
A boat launch at this Unit provides access to the Island Unit and portions of the Skagit River estuary via Freshwater Slough.
A Discover Pass or WDFW Vehicle Access Pass
is required on all WDFW lands. Learn more at DiscoverPass.wa.gov