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Washington Waterfowl Association

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Current and upcoming projects

Samish Unit Blinds 2021

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The NW Chapter constructed two new Hunting Blinds at the Skagit Wildlife Area Samish Unit. On July 24, 18 WWA members and non‐members participated in the construction of five (5) new hunting blinds. We had previously met with Greg Meis, Assistant Manager of the Skagit Wildlife Area to scope out locations for each new blind. We also did an assessment of necessary repairs on existing blinds.

The blinds all were constructed with treated 2 x 4 and plywood bases with a few raised on 4 x 4’s in wetter areas. T‐Post construction was used to secure welded metal fencing. We used hedge trimmers to cut 3 truck loads of canary Grass to camo out the blinds. Initial construction was completed on all five (5) blinds. 

On August 7th, WWA members again met to finish the blinds and complete repairs on existing blinds. The team cut six (6) truck loads of Canary Grass and finished grassing up all the new blinds. Six foot long benches were constructed and installed in each blind. On to the existing blinds... We repaired benches, added T‐posts to several blinds, installed welded metal fencing on a old Boy Scout built blind, and brushed it up for the season opener. 

Moses Lake ADA Blind

Thanks to Board member and Grays Harbor Chapter Chair Kurt Snyder who delivered two (2) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) handicap accessible blinds to Moses Lake. The blinds were built and donated by Rick Springs of Vancouver, WA. One will be installed at the Frenchman Regulated Access Area (RAA, f/k/a Quality Hunt Area), replacing an ADA blind currently there. The blind currently there will be moved to replace the ADA blind on Rocky Ford Creek.

The second blind has been picked up an moved to Spokane.

Union River Blind Project

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Last year in August 2020 a new WWA member, Grant Duchesne contacted us enquiring about the blinds in the Union River Unit of the South Sound Wildlife Area located in Lynch Cove, Hood Canal. He sent us pictures that he took and was wondering who was in charge of the blinds, and how they could be fixed. They were in bad shape and pretty much unusable.

After several inquiries, we found out that the blinds were built about 2001. The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG) had previously received an ALEA (Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account) grant for river delta improvement, and part of it was for the blind maintenance within the South Sound Wildlife Area.

We were going to need a good number of volunteers to make this project happen.  Within a month we had 22 people volunteering to help, five (5) with boats!! Then we got several pledges for donations! We were amazed by everyone’s eagerness to help and were able to move forward into planning.

The first thing we did was go out to the blind sites and survey what would be needed to make the blinds usable. We found the two floating blinds needed new decks, anchor chains and new enclosures with roofs.

Lucky for us the original builders used premium lumber for the float structure and floats that could be used again. The two boat‐in‐only stick blinds were found to be barely adequate with rusty T‐posts and fence wire enclosure and not located in the best spots.

The URBP was off to a good start. After pricing lumber and hardware, we estimated that we could rebuild the two (2) floating blinds for $2039.79. With the $400.00 grant money, we only needed $1639.79. That estimate lasted almost two (2) months.  After that, the price of lumber went berserk — could not have happened at a worse time for the project.

We next asked for money and we had donations come in from private donors; from WWA Chapters and a bonus check from WWA Corporate to make up for the sudden rise in lumber prices. We had enough, and we spent it as fast as I could to beat the daily rise in lumber.

The Grays Harbor Chapter of the WWA authorized use of their treasury for the funding in order to account for all project money. We were again wowed at the generosity of the donors and the willingness to get this project completed.

The URBP is broken into three (3) Phases.

  • Phase 1 we would make the two floating blinds usable by the 2021/2022 duck season.
  • Phase 2 would be to address the two (2) stick blinds and a new walk in blind with the use of another ALEA grant. Being a two‐year cycle, we will have the stick blinds operational and Phase 2 completed by the 2023 season. The stick blinds will be constructed with lumber and have seats and roofs. A huge improvement over the prior T‐post construction.
  • Phase 3 will be maintenance on all blinds in the Union River Unit and include any future expansion of trails to walk in blinds.

We completed Phase 1 of this project on the 19th of June. We have yet to schedule a short work party to turn one blind 90 degrees, and replace 15 feet of anchor chain. We need a 12.5 foot tide to float the blind for this adjustment, so it has to be delayed until Mother Nature helps us out.

Thanks, Thanks, and Thanks!

We have a WHOLE LOT of folks to thank for the completion of Phase 1. I will start by thanking Grant Duchesne for bringing to our attention, the bad shape of the blinds and volunteering his new duck boat for the project.

Next all the other volunteers that made the project happen! Captain Tim Bartholomew and his son Zack. Tim brought his boat out to the first two outings. Tim and Zack helped build the blinds.

Bryan Murphy, WDFW Biologist. Bryan was present all three (3) times we visited the blind sites and brought his boat along all three (3) times! He also helped build the blinds. Rick Sheridan who helped build the blinds on site. Scott Morrison, who brought his boat along to haul blind material and help build the blinds. Gary Guinotte, who along with me, framed all the blind walls and roof sections in my  driveway. Lucas Marin of the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group for his boost to the project by getting our attention and buying the hardware and chains with the $400 in left over ALEA grant money!

Also thanks to of you that volunteered but didn’t get a chance to physically help out, as sometimes “Too many cooks do spoil the broth,” and most times we simply didn’t have enough space to physically accommodate all who wanted to help out. Hopefully we can get you all involved for the following phases.

Now to Thank all the Generous Donors

First the personal donors (in alphabetical order)

Bill German; Treavor Morris; Mike Nilsen; Albert O’Conner; Brett Schwemmer; Rick Sheridan; Gary Talbert; and Patrick Tobin

WWA Chapters that donated

Northwest Chapter

Seattle Chapter

Southwest Chapter

Yakima Valley Chapter; and

WWA Board of Directors (Corporate funds)

I asked for financial help, and you all came through!

Also, many thanks the WDFW Wildlife Area Manager, Darric Lowery who is involved with our projects and has always cooperated with the WWA. He has made it easy for us to ply our conservation on the Washington Wildlife Areas! And thanks to the Port of Allyn Commissioners for allowing us to use their facility free of charge in the process of this project. Without ALL OF YOU, this project would not have happened! See you down the road in Phase 2!!!

Past Projects

Samish Unit ADA Hunting Blinds and Access Improvement

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is applying for development grant to make public access improvements on the Samish Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area. The project will focus on improving seasonal access during fall and winter months when the site is managed to provide wetlands for waterfowl and other water birds. These funds will improve access routes (farm roads and berm) and associated trail surfaces improving walk-in access for the general public but will also create a new accessible multi-seasonal Americans with Disabilities (ADA) entry pathway into two (2) new ADA waterfowl hunting blinds/wildlife viewing platforms, permanent ADA accessible CXT vault toilet, an ADA parking pad adjacent to the existing parking lot would be constructed to support two vehicles with trailers to accommodate persons with disabilities and their OPDMD devices. Other power-driven mobility devices (OPDMD) include ATV, side-by-side, all-terrain-power-chair, mobility trike or scooters, EV-bike, Segway and adaptive mountain bikes. In addition, this project will improve year-round access for ADA users, the general public and those with limited mobility concerns. There are currently no ADA accessible hunting opportunities on public lands in Skagit County and few within the North Puget Sound region. WDFW has over 160,000 hunters, anglers, and recreational user within its Disability Program. This grant funding will develop a much-needed (ADA) waterfowl hunting and wildlife viewing site.

WWA NW Chapter is supporting this project and has submitted a Letter of Recommendation in support. Chapter members have agreed to support the project development through volunteer work including ADA Blind construction, ADA Parking Lot Fencing installation and yearly site cleanup at the close of each hunting season.

This project is currently in the evaluation stage in the Washington State, Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant process.

Wood Duck Boxes

Most chapters place and monitor wood duck nest boxes and nesting tubes each year, usually in late winter. In the mid-2000's WWA obtained a grant from WDFW and now maintains a statewide wood duck nest box database. Anyone monitoring wood duck nest boxes can provide the data to WWA for inclusion in the statewide database. the best way to become involved in this program is to attend a local WWA Chapter meeting. If you would like to build or place your own wood duck nest boxes or mallard nest tubes check out the plans and data sheet links below.

Samish Unit Blinds

In July of 2019 our NW chapter members constructed 2 new hunting blinds at the Skagit Wildlife Area Samish Unit East. The old blind was removed and volunteers rebuilt a 4’x8’ blind and brushed up the blind with camo materials. Materials were provided by the WWA NW Chapter and WDFW

Also in the summer of 2019, the NW chapter worked in conjunction with Boy Scout Troop 86 out of Stanwood to construct a new blind at the main Samish Unit. This blind was built in support of an “Eagle Scout” service project. The Eagle Scout candidate provided the planning and leadership necessary for project development.

The Blind was constructed adjacent to a large pond at the site. Materials for the blind were donated by Cascade Lumber of Camano Is. and the NW Chapter. The blind was completed in short order and decked out with a roof for those soggy days in the field. This project completed the final requirements for the scout candidates qualifications and he was awarded with Eagle Scout status soon after project completion.

Willapa Bay Eelgrass

In 2011, commercial shellfish growers in Willapa Bay successfully lobbied the Pacific County Noxious Weed Control Board to get Japanese eelgrass (Zostera japonica) listed as a noxious weed in the county.  In 2012 the County listing was broadened to statewide by the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.  These weed listings were sought in concert with application by commercial shellfish growers for a licence to spray the herbicide Imazamox on Japanese eelgrass in their clambeds, where it has become a nuisance, making difficult the harvest of imported manilla clams.  It currently appears a permit will be provied by the Washington State Department of Ecology for the spraying of Imazamox on commercial clamshell beds only.

WWA has worked for nearly three years to assure that state agencies understand the importance of Japanese eelgrass to waterfowl, particularly wigeon (see photo).  As part of this effort, and at the urging of WWA, WDFW began waterfowl counts in Willapa Bay for the first time in many years, and WDFW and WWA have gathered all available historic waterfowl count data from the region to better understand changing duck population numbers in Willapa Bay.  This data also will allow us to monitor the potential impacts of eelgrass spraying, over time. WWA understands and appreciates that the spraying of Imazamox likely will help commercial shellfish growers increase their production of, and profit from, manilla clams.  Our concern is that widespread spraying of Japanese eelgrass could lead to noticable reductions in available waterfowl food (carrying capacity), particularly in Willapa Bay, but potentially in other estuarine areas of the state. 

Our thanks go to member Ross Barkhust for his years of observation and knowledge of eelgrass and waterfowl in Willapa Bay and his strong support of WWA and its goals.

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