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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


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May 30, 1997
Contact: Tim Waters, (206) 775-1311, ext. 119

Public meeting scheduled on proposal to create snow geese, trumpeter swan reserve areas

MT. VERNON -- A June 12 public meeting has been scheduled here to discuss a proposal by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to create game reserves for snow geese and trumpeter swans on agency-owned land in Skagit County.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Skagit County Courthouse, 205 W. Kincaid. Wildlife experts will attend to talk about the proposal, which is expected to be voted on this summer by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Under the proposal, 218 acres on Fir Island would be set aside during the winter months to grow crops to feed migrating snow geese, which flock to the Skagit Valley each winter from Siberia. An estimated 45,000 snow geese each year winter in the valley. The acreage was managed as a private hunting club prior to its purchase by WDFW, and has ben closed to waterfowl hunting since that time.

The proposal also calls for about 200 acres on Debay's Slough to be used to grow winter food crops for trumpeter swans. The swans, which migrate to Skagit County each winter from Alaska. Prior to its purchase for trumpeter swans, the area was not open for public hunting, so the current proposal will not result in a loss of hunting opportunity.

The Skagit Valley is one of the most popular resting and feeding places in the Pacific Flyway for migratory waterfowl. Each winter, large numbers of birders and hunters from across Washington state and elsewhere travel to the county to view and hunt the birds.

Wildlife biologist Mike Davison said the acreage where the reserves would be located is owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The properties were purchased with a combination of private and public funds specifically targeted for waterfowl conservation projects, including establishment of reserves.

Davison said the department leases lands to farmers to grow various crops during months when the land is not being used as a winter sanctuary for the geese and swans. "The idea is to use the acreage for reserve purposes during those months when it would typically lie dormant," he said.

In addition to the Fir Island and Debay's Slough acreage, the Department of Fish and Wildlife in recent years has purchased other land in Skagit County for use during the winter months as waterfowl habitat and hunting areas. These lands have been planted by area farmers under contract from the Washington State Duck Stamp Program. In this program, barley is left for wintering waterfowl.