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600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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October 23, 2017
Contact: Loren Brokaw: 425-775-1311 x105

WDFW reopens public access to
the Leque Island Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area

OLYMPIA—The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has reopened public access to Leque Island near Stanwood, following a temporary closure for a habitat restoration project designed to benefit shorebirds, waterfowl and salmon.

The entire island, which reopened to the public Oct. 13, is accessible on foot, though walkers may need to navigate around new channels that could fill with water during the rainy season, said Belinda Rotton, WDFW's Skagit Wildlife Area manager.

Maps showing the easiest walking routes are available at the site. The island's parking areas and road access are unchanged.

Much of Leque Island was historically a saltwater marsh that provided habitat for many species, including juvenile salmon. In the early 1900's, residents built dikes around the perimeter of the island to reclaim land for agricultural use and housing. Those dikes are now failing.

The department began purchasing Leque Island, part of WDFW's Skagit Wildlife Area, for habitat restoration in the 1970s.

The construction project this summer prepared the site for removing the perimeter levee in order to re-establish marsh habitat beneficial to fish and wildlife in the Stillaguamish watershed, said Loren Brokaw, a restoration project coordinator with WDFW.

Work this year involved excavating new channels, filling ditches and building small islands in the interior of the island.

In the next phase, which Brokaw anticipates will take place in 2019, construction crews will remove the perimeter levee to reconnect the site to the tides. Brokaw expects salt marsh habitat to develop on the site.

The Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Program ( and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ( are providing grants to fund the project.

Those interested in learning more about the project and restoration plan should visit