Skagit Wildlife Area Island Unit Alternatives Analysis

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) formed an advisory group to give the Department feedback on a potential habitat restoration project on the Island Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area. 

Project background

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

The 268-acre Island Unit is located on two diked islands in a tidally-influenced reach of the South Fork Skagit River. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has owned and managed the Island Unit since the 1950s to create winter forage for over-wintering ducks and geese. The site is sometimes referred to as the "farmed island" and is used primarily by duck and goose hunters. 

WDFW is assessing land management of the Island Unit to best respond to aging dikes on the site, anticipated sea level rise, and changing habitat needs. The Island Unit is a priority area to restore habitat for salmon because it was historically a tidally-influenced estuary that provided critical rearing habitat for juvenile chinook salmon. 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, and is conducting an alternatives analysis, which is a planning process used to evaluate a range of choices relative to a set of identified criteria. The alternatives at the Island Unit will range from no restoration to restoration of the entire 268-acre site. 

Criteria to consider: 

  • Cost and funding availability
  • Department policies, obligations, and agreements
  • Permit feasibility
  • Salmon recovery goals
  • Waterfowl conservation
  • Recreation, access, and multiple uses at the site
  • Input from stakeholders, tribes, governments, 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.

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Press releases and communications

Press releases: July 29, 2019

Contact

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