Belinda Rotton, 360-445-4441
OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a public open house March 28 to kick off a planning process for the Skagit Wildlife Area, which includes critical estuary and other habitat valuable to species such as waterfowl, shorebirds, and juvenile salmon.
The wildlife area consists of 17,000 acres in Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan counties. A huge portion - about 12,000 acres - of the wildlife area is estuary in Skagit County. The wildlife area contains wetlands, agricultural habitat, and natural areas managed for the protection of sensitive species.
The open house is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, at the Padilla Bay Visitor Center at 10441 Bayview Edison Rd, Mount Vernon. There will be stations set up to showcase the different wildlife area.
The Skagit plan will propose actions for the management of the wildlife area over the next 10 years. The Skagit Wildlife Area is managed to preserve fish, wildlife and their habitats, and to provide access for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, said Belinda Rotton, wildlife area manager.
At the upcoming open house, the public will be able to talk to individual WDFW staff members about wildlife area history, current management, recreational activities, and the planning process, Rotton said.
"We want to hear from the public about how people use this area and what recreation and natural resource values are important to them," she said. "We're also looking for interested citizens to sit on the wildlife area advisory committee."
WDFW is seeking advisors to represent diverse interests including wildlife area neighbors, the agricultural community, and various recreational user groups such as wildlife watchers and hunters.
The Skagit Wildlife Area advisory committee will guide development of the wildlife area plan and ongoing management activities, Rotton said. Those interested in serving should contact her at 360-445-4441 or Belinda.Rotton@dfw.wa.gov.
Rotton said the public will have several opportunities to comment on the plan over the next year as a draft is developed.
She noted that the March 28 meeting will focus on management planning for the entire wildlife area, not specific actions at a specific location.
The department is revising management plans for all of its 33 wildlife areas to reflect current conditions and identify new priorities.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities. WDFW actively manages public lands and waters for people to explore and engage, to support lifestyles and livelihoods to foster shared experiences and to preserve Washington's proud natural and cultural heritage. The agency relies on input from the public to inform management direction.