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.
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.
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.
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.