From 1996 to 2000, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) purchased 409 acres of agricultural land adjacent to Samish Bay in western Skagit County and established the Samish Unit of Skagit Wildlife Area. While the area has seen some improvement since the WDFW acquired it, the original water-management infrastructure has begun to deteriorate and water movement across the site has become inefficient, resulting in marginal wetland conditions.
With funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and a WDFW duck stamp grant, Ducks Unlimited is currently working with the WDFW to restore more than 200 acres on the Samish Unit by upgrading infrastructure and improving water delivery. Under construction this summer, this project will allow the WDFW to better manage water and mimic hydrologic patterns conducive to maintaining the seasonal wetlands that once dotted this landscape. Reestablished seasonal wetland plant communities in the project area, augmented with cereal grains planted on the unit's remaining acreage, will greatly benefit a wide variety of waterfowl and shorebirds that migrate and winter in Washington.
The Samish Unit has been a popular public waterfowling destination for hunters in the northern Puget Sound. Habitat improvements provided by this project should result in better hunting opportunities in the years to come.