OLYMPIA – Proposals for enhancing South Padilla Bay wetlands for fish, wildlife and public access will be the topic of discussion during a Jan. 23 public open house in Bayview.
The meeting, designed to offer citizens an opportunity to discuss the South Padilla Bay wetland enhancement project with representatives from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and other partners, is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Padilla Bay Interpretive Center, 10441 Bayview-Edison Road, Mount Vernon.
WDFW is purchasing land in the South Padilla Bay area to enhance and protect habitat for fish and wildlife, and provide public access for hunters and birdwatchers. The Washington Department of Ecology and Ducks Unlimited will be working with WDFW to design freshwater habitat enhancements on the land.
“This open house offers citizens an opportunity to discuss the project and its benefits to the estuary and the community,” said Lora Leschner, WDFW regional wildlife program manager.
WDFW recently purchased two properties in the project area – a 45-acre parcel and a 62-acre site – and negotiations for other acquisitions in the South Padilla Bay area are under way, said Leschner.
The two properties recently acquired by WDFW are currently leased for agriculture, which provides winter habitat for waterfowl. Discussions will include maintaining agriculture on those sites in conjunction with wetland enhancements, said Leschner.
Land acquisitions for the project are funded by a federal National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a state Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account grant through the Interagency Committee for Outdoor recreation.
Leschner said the project partners also will work with Skagit County, the local diking district, other community organizations and farmers in designing the wetland enhancements.
“This project has the potential to maintain and improve important habitat in Padilla Bay,” said Leschner.