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WDFW selects plan for Leque Island levees

OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has selected a design concept for a project that addresses chronic dike failures and restores estuary habitat on Leque Island near Stanwood.

Dikes built on the island in the early 1900s have required costly repairs over the past 10 years. After extensive evaluation, the department selected a concept that outlines the removal of most of the existing levees. However, a section of levee on the eastern portion of the property will be reconstructed and maintained to keep the Stillaguamish River in its current channel.

The removal of most dikes on Leque Island will allow tidal water to inundate the 250-acre site, restoring estuary habitat. Species that rely on estuary habitat, including salmon, waterfowl and shorebirds, will benefit from this project, said Loren Brokaw, restoration coordinator for WDFW.

"In the coming months, we'll begin incorporating recreation features and public access in the design," Brokaw said. "Public input will be crucial during this phase."

After the design is finalized, the project will undergo an environmental review that includes a public comment period. WDFW is targeting the summer of 2017 to begin construction on the project.

WDFW selected this design concept based on input from the public and a 31-member advisory committee that is made up of representatives from tribal and local governments, habitat restoration groups and recreationists that use the area, including waterfowl and pheasant hunters, wildlife viewers and dog trainers.

The department, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, began the Leque Island Alternatives Analysis and Design Project in 2013. WDFW owns and manages Leque Island, which is part of the Skagit Wildlife Area.

All project materials, including graphics, analysis of design alternatives, meeting notes and stake holder input are available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit/leque_island_project.php


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