The 61 acres of habitat join an uninterrupted stretch of protected land used by salmon, elk, eagles and other wildlife.
A 1,500-footlong stretch of riverfront along the Skagit River near Rockport, Skagit County, totaling 61 acres has been permanently protected by Seattle City Light for fish and wildlife habitat.
The land connects to other protected parcels to create a wildlife corridor for elk and other wildlife. Bald eagles fishing for salmon, and all five species of Pacific salmon, as well as steelhead, utilize this stretch of river.
Denise Krownbell, of City Light’s environment, land and licensing business unit, said the utility closed on the property last month. The utility tried to buy the property once before in 2012, Krownbell said, but this time succeeded with grants from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
The Skagit is Puget Sound’s premier salmon river, home to chum, king, sockeye, coho and pinks, as well as steelhead. Eagles are drawn to the river at this time of year to feed on spawned salmon. The river also is an important source of chinook for killer whales foraging in Puget Sound as the fish make their way back to the river to spawn.
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The new acquisition connects to other parcels previously purchased by City Light and by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Skagit Land Trust and Skagit County to protect a total of 243 acres and over 2 miles of Skagit River frontage.
In addition to the waterfront, one of the state fish and wildlife parcels includes important side-channel habitat that provides refuge and rearing habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead.
The ability to link so many parcels of public land made the deal particularly attractive, Krownbell said. “This is a nice chunk.”
The utility’s most recent purchase was made with $248,000 from the Seattle City Light Endangered Species Act Lands Program funds, and a $6,000 grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
Correction: An earlier caption on this story misstated the agency that purchased the 61-acre parcel along the Skagit River.