DRAFT Skagit Wildlife Area Management Plan (2024)


Published: March 19, 2024

Pages: 199

Executive Summary

The Skagit Wildlife Area is in Skagit, Island, San Juan, and Snohomish counties and is comprised of 21 units totaling 17,968 acres. The area contains large concentrations of waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors from August through April. The Skagit River and estuary provides important habitat for salmon. Each winter this delta serves as a significant refuge for waterfowl, including core habitat for trumpeter swans and snow geese within the Pacific Flyway

Management of the Skagit Wildlife Area is focused on units located in the Skagit and Samish deltas east of Whidbey Island and Camano Island. These units include riparian forests, wetlands, Douglas fir forests, estuaries, floodplains, marine intertidal areas, islands, backwater sloughs, and agriculture lands. The primary management focus is on estuary and floodplain restoration, providing forage for wintering waterfowl, recovering federal and state listed species, and providing recreation.

The Skagit Wildlife Area offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities. Providing quality recreation opportunities is a primary management objective of this plan alongside conserving habitat for fish and wildlife. The diversity and quantity of bird species and associated habitats found at the Skagit Wildlife Area make it an excellent year-round destination for bird watching and photography. The Skagit Wildlife Area is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network sites of regional Importance. The best time frame for viewing the greatest variety of bird species is fall through spring. Hunting for waterfowl, pheasant, small game, and to some degree for black tail deer is popular on the Skagit Wildlife Area. The diversity and concentration of migrating waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway makes the wildlife area one of the more popular waterfowl hunting destinations in the state.

The Skagit Wildlife Area supports a broad range of game and diversity (non-game) species. The greater Skagit Delta is best known for wintering waterfowl. Common species include mallards, northern pintails, American wigeon, green-winged teal, trumpeter swans, lesser snow geese, and Canada geese. Resident game species occurring within the wildlife area include black-tailed deer, band-tailed pigeon, and ruffed grouse. Many species of shorebirds and both tundra and trumpeter swans routinely use the wildlife area. The Skagit estuary provides critical habitat for a variety of native fish species including federally listed Skagit Chinook salmon, bull trout, and steelhead trout.

In the last 18 years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has engaged in significant estuary restoration projects on the Skagit Wildlife Area in Snohomish and Skagit counties. To date, the Department has restored 737 acres (Leque Island, Wiley Slough, Fir Island Farm, Island/Deepwater Slough) of WDFW-managed to support estuary habitat with a focus on salmon recovery.

Suggested citation

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2024. Draft Skagit Wildlife Area Management Plan. Olympia, WA.

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