Belinda Rotton, 360-445-4441
Rachel Blomker, 360-701-3101
STANWOOD – The Big Ditch Access Area along Pioneer Highway near Stanwood will close Aug. 14 through Oct. 1, 2019. Dike district personnel and neighboring farm owners will still have administrative access.
Belinda Rotton, wildlife area manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the site is becoming very popular for trash dumping, vandalism, and target shooting. Area users and neighbors have complained and the local dike district is concerned about potential infrastructure damages.
The site is most commonly used by bird watchers and waterfowl hunters for access to the Skagit Bay Estuary during the fall and winter.
“Since we’re seeing most of the site challenges in the summer, we think the seasonal closure can help address issues with a relatively low recreational impact,” said Rotton. “We may consider an annual summer closure of the site, but we would first go through a formal public review process before making that level of a change.”
The Big Ditch Access Area is within the Skagit Wildlife Area, which contains a little over 16,700 acres of wildlife habitat composed primarily of intertidal estuary, managed agricultural (diked) lands, and native habitat.
WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 500 water access sites across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.
WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.