Repairs will keep Big Ditch near Stanwood closed into October

STANWOOD — A popular spot for hunting, bird-watching and hiking near Skagit Bay is expected to remain closed into October while the tide gate and fish passage there are replaced.

Skagit County Drainage and Irrigation District 17 has started a $500,000 project to repair aging infrastructure at Big Ditch, about three miles north of Stanwood. The work began Aug. 15. Though Big Ditch falls within Snohomish County, it’s part of the Skagit County special district. The district sold the land to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in the 1960s for public use but kept the ability to make repairs as needed.

The work being done now is expected to be a “lifetime repair,” said Brandon Roozen, executive director of the Western Washington Agricultural Association, which works with about a dozen special districts.

“The goal here is to finish this as close to when the public wants to access the site as possible,” Roozen said. “This location is open year round, but the primary use of it is for hunting in the fall.”

A news release from Fish and Wildlife cited Oct. 31 as the goal for reopening Big Ditch. It could be sooner than that, but there’s no specific date, Roozen said.

The project is being paid for by property owners within the district. It’s one of the district’s largest projects, Roozen said. The goal is to make drainage and irrigation better for farmers, improve fish access with the new passage and make the area safer for people who come out to walk or hunt.

The access to Big Ditch is a one-way road, and with equipment and materials for the project coming in and out, it’s not safe to try getting out there until the work is done, said Belinda Rotton, Skagit Wildlife Area manager for Fish and Wildlife. The area should be open before the busiest months for hunting or birding in the fall and winter, she said.

“We get a lot more activity there during the waterfowl and snow goose viewing time frames because it is a water access point where you can get pretty close to the marsh and really see the birds,” she said.

Maintenance projects for tide gates and fish passages are routine, Roozen said. The public access at Big Ditch makes this one different. However, maintenance and safety need to take priority. The work is expected to be a permanent fix for the outdated infrastructure and no other major projects are planned there anytime soon, he said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Democrats advance assault weapons ban, new rules for gun buyers

The measures passed a House committee without Republican support. They are part of a broader agenda to curb gun violence.

A person and child watch seagulls on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Cold weather returning to Western Washington

Nightly temperatures in the 20s with highs in the 30s were expected this weekend. Cold weather shelters will be open.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is this year's winner of the Henry M. Jackson Award given by Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Photographed in Marysville, Washington on April 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville State of the City address set for Feb. 1

Mayor Jon Nehring will highlight 2022 accomplishments and look to the future. Questions from the audience will follow.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A move to require voting and a bicameral chasm on vehicle pursuits

It’s Day 19 and the mood is heating up as the third week of the 2023 legislative session comes to an end.

Lynnwood County Council candidate Joshua Binda is the subject of two complaints with the Public Disclosure Commission. (Josh Binda campaign photo)
Binda fined $1,000 for misuse of campaign contributions

The Lynnwood Council member’s personal use of donor funds was a “serious violation” of campaign law, the state PDC concluded.

Juniper DeCasso, 17, prepares groceries for pickup at the Edmonds Food Bank in Edmonds, Washington on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Scriber Lake High School student Juniper works at the Edmonds Food bank as part of an on-the-job training class that teaches students about career options and goal planning, while also paying them for a part-time internship. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
School program gives Scriber Lake teens class credits — and paychecks

The on-the-job training program offers paid internships and career planning assignments with a real-world feel.

Dr. Robert Carsrud from the 2015 King County Voters Pamphlet. (King County Elections)
State to pay $600K over psychologist’s harassment at Monroe prison

In a federal lawsuit, Tressa Grummer alleged persistent sexual harassment as an intern by her supervisor, Robert Carsrud.

Construction crews work on the Lynnwood Light rail station on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Sound Transit asserts Bellevue-Redmond line won’t delay Lynnwood light rail

Its board approved $6 million to study an East Link “starter line.” Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell said: “Snohomish County wants to ride, too.”

FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at the state Capitol in Olympia, Wash. An effort to balance what is considered the nation's most regressive state tax code comes before the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in a case that could overturn a prohibition on income taxes that dates to the 1930s. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Justices weigh legality of tax aimed at rebalancing state’s tax code

The state Supreme Court heard arguments about whether to overturn a prohibition on income taxes that dates to the 1930s.

Most Read