MILL CREEK – Due to significant impacts caused by unlawful activities and a need to protect public safety, the Big Ditch Access Area along Pioneer Highway near Stanwood will be closed June 9 through Oct. 1, 2021. 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 has seen high levels of trash dumping, vandalism, and target shooting. Area visitors and neighbors have complained about these activities and the local dike district is concerned about potential infrastructure damages.
Bird watchers and waterfowl hunters use the site most often 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.
The Big Ditch Access Area is within the Skagit Wildlife Area, which contains a little over 16,700 acres of wildlife habitat, including open water, island shoreline, tidal mudflats and marshes, forested uplands, and managed agricultural (diked) lands. This range of habitats provide necessary resources for aquatic and terrestrial species such as ducks, geese, swans, raptors, and shorebirds.
By actively managing lands, restoring habitats, and preserving wild places, WDFW serves as stewards for Washington’s natural places, protecting the state’s land and water for people, fish, and wildlife. WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.