Skagit Wildlife Area Island Unit Alternatives Analysis

Project News

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is forming an advisory group that will provide feedback to WDFW regarding a potential habitat restoration project on the Island Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area. Applications were due by Aug. 19. Thanks to everyone that applied. Applicants will be contacted by WDFW, and an announcement will be made on by Sept. 9, 2019 on the final advisory group roster.

Project Background

The Island Unit covers approximately 268 acres on two islands in a tidally-influenced reach of the South Fork Skagit River within the Skagit River delta. WDFW owns and manages the Island Unit as part of the 17,000-acre Skagit Wildlife Area. WDFW has actively farmed the area since the 1950s to provide enhanced winter forage for waterfowl. The site is sometimes referred to as the “farmed island” and is a productive and popular waterfowl hunting area.

Aerial of the Island Unit
Aerial view of the Island Unit, Skagit Wildlife Area

WDFW needs to evaluate how to respond to a changing landscape on the Island Unit. For example, aging tide gates on the site and anticipated sea level rise and changes in river flows are among some of the issues that will need to be addressed. The Island Unit is also a priority area to restore habitat for salmon. Historically, the site was a tidally-influenced estuary that provided critical rearing habitat for juvenile chinook salmon and other salmon and trout species. The Skagit Chinook Recovery Plan identifies estuarine habitat as the highest priority for recovering salmon in the area. 

WDFW is considering a habitat restoration project on the Island Unit, and will assess several options that range from no restoration to restoring all 268 acres. WDFW will evaluate options based on state requirements and policies, as well as community values and input from the advisory group and the public.

Community engagement

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is committed to sharing timely project information with the local community, stakeholders, tribes and government agencies, as well as providing opportunities for comment during project planning.

Press releases and communications

Press releases: July 29, 2019

Contact

For questions, please contact Seth.Ballhorn@dfw.wa.gov