The Johnson/DeBay Swan Reserve (JDSR), near Mt. Vernon, Washington, is America’s only swan reserve. Owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Reserve was dedicated in 2001 for the public to view wintering Trumpeter and Tundra Swans. Since its creation, TTSS has served on the Reserve’s stewardship group and been a leading advocate for its protection and improvement.

WDFW’s management of the Reserve’s agricultural fields adjacent to a wetland night roost, and closure to hunting, provide excellent conditions for wintering swans. The Reserve is wheelchair accessible and has become a wonderful place to view many other birds, including ducks, raptors, and song birds.

Over the past 18 months, a boundary dispute threatened the Reserve. TTSS helped focus public attention on the threat and worked hard for the Reserve’s protection. To our great satisfaction, the threat was resolved at the WDFW Commission meeting in December 2009, when the Commission ruled to preserve the original intended boundary. This ruling will keep key swan flight corridors to the nearby Skagit River free from hunting.

TTSS has also led efforts to improve the Reserve’s interpretive facilities, with funding given in memory of John Glynn, an avid birder who cared deeply for this special place. We recently installed an interpretive kiosk and two benches and are currently planning a spring/summer nature trail and viewing platform.

A field trip for legislators and policy makers was held at the Reserve on December 16, 2009. In preparation for this event, TTSS, in cooperation with WDFW, developed informational signs and handouts for the event. The swans provided background music and graced the visitors with flights directly over the group, confirming to all the important value of the Reserve.

Thanks to all who helped keep this place safe, particularly Skagit Audubon Society, Washington Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited, and the WDFW Commission and dedicated staff.

Contributed by Martha Jordan, TTSS Board of Directors

Kiosk at Johnson/DeBay Swan Reserve, Washington


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  1. Martha Jordan Says:

    The Johnson/DeBay Swan Reserve has been made more secure with the recent purchase of the major inholding by WDFW. As many of you are aware, the Swan Reserve nearly lost its Reserve status because of these inholdings. TTSS via the WSWG worked for more than 18months to get the boundary issue resolved, then continued on for another year supporting the purchase of the inholdings. This week I received notice that the purchase is complete.

    This is a milestone for us here and a real boost for conservation of winter swan use areas in the Skagit Valley. Thank you to TTSS, WDFW staff, the Fish and Wildlife Commission, Skagit Audubon and others who helped make this happen.

    Martha Jordan

  2. Martha Jordan Says:

    Thanks for the great news and update to this earlier post. Well done! Peg

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