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History of Your Port

1911 – Washington Legislature approves the Port District Act, which Governor Hay signed into law on March 14. Seattle and Grays Harbor form the first public port districts in the state.


1933 -- Federal New Deal agencies build a one-runway airfield for light airplanes on Bay View Hill in Skagit County, the site of the current Skagit Regional Airport.


1943 -- The U.S. Navy constructs a new two-runway system on the same site, as an alternate training airfield for the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.


1945 -- After World War II, federal government continues to operate the airport, primarily for crop dusting and the Civil Air Patrol.


1958 --  “Bay View Airport” is transferred to Skagit County.


1964 --  Residents vote to form the Port of Skagit; its purpose to create jobs while developing transportation and recreational facilities. The founding commissioners were George Dynes (District 1), Chris Knudson (District 2), and Norman Ovenell (District 3).


1965 -- The county transfers the ownership of the airport to the Port of Anacortes and the Port of Skagit, which operate it jointly.


May 1966 – The port commissioners approve a Comprehensive Plan of Development, setting the port’s course for the future.


Late 1960s -- The Port purchases properties for development in Conway and on Pease Road in Burlington. Conway Pole Yard, later named the Conway Industrial Site, is now leased by the Bell Lumber & Pole Co. The Pease Road property grew to 67 flatland acres by the late 1990s and was known as the Hopper Road Business Park.


1970 -- The Port of Skagit completes the first phase of the La Conner Marina, a much needed small-boat harbor to serve maritime traffic through the Swinomish Channel. Today’s full-service marina includes 490 moorages with additional dry-storage for 200 boats and a guest dock.




1971 -- The Port of Skagit builds 30,000-square-foot poultry processing plant for Draper Valley Farms, which later bought the property. 


1975 -- The Port of Skagit takes over as sole owner and operator of Bay View Airport.


1978 -- New airport passenger terminal/port administration building is built; airport’s name changes to the Skagit Regional Airport.


1980 -- The Port of Skagit sells 240 acres of surplus property to PACCAR Inc. for the construction of a $15 million truck testing facility just west of Skagit Regional Airport.


1986 – Higgins Airport Way opens, creating a road link to Skagit Regional Airport from Highway 20 and Josh Wilson Road.


1986 - Skagit County’s approval of an industrial site plan for Bayview Business Park provides 325 acres of developable land at the airport, and the Port of Skagit begins installing utilities on it. As a result the Port is able to bring several large employers to the Skagit Valley, including Hexel (1990), TriCounty Truss (1990), International Aero, Team and others.


1994 – The Port of Skagit begins a program of wetland protection known as Skagit Wetlands and Industrial Negotiations to plan for wetland protection, while still providing for business and industry on the port’s property. As the result of Skagit WIN, there are now approximately 477 acres of high functioning, protected wetlands and wetland buffers at the Bayview Business Park. In addition, the port maintains approximately 20 acres of restored wetlands.


1996 – Port institutes an incubator program to assist formative businesses by providing affordable facilities while they become established.


1996-98 -- Stormwater system installed along Higgins Airport Way and around Skagit Regional Airport and Bayview Business Park.


1998 – AWOS III automated weather observation system operational at Skagit Regional Airport.


1998 -- The Port of Skagit begins development of a 10-mile trail system throughout the business park in lieu of curb, gutter and sidewalks – an early example of Low Impact Development and another example of innovation and creative solutions.


2003 – The Port of Skagit acquires the Herdt family property at the corner of Josh Wilson Road and Farm to Market Road, protecting the western approach to Skagit Regional Airport’s main runway.


2003 – Air show held to celebrate the 70th birthday of Skagit Regional Airport.


2003 – Transient Dock G replaced at the La Conner Marina.


2004 – Port completes infrastructure development on Divisions 5 and 7 heavy industrial properties at the Bayview Business Park.


2004 -- The Port of Skagit acquires the TTM Building at Bayview Business Park and renovates it into a multi-tenant facility.


2005 – North Basin haul-out pier at the La Conner Marina replaced.


2005 – Port of Skagit co-founds the Communications Network Consortium with local municipalities in an effort to spread broadband service throughout the Skagit Valley.


2005 – Port-owned Hopper Road Business Park in Burlington sold to private interests.


2006 – “Fly Friendly” noise abatement program instituted at Skagit Regional Airport.


2008 – Corporate Air Center, FedEx, Crosswinds and Glacier buildings acquired at Skagit Regional Airport.


2008 – The Port of Skagit adds a state-of-the-art filtration system to the boat wash-down facility at the La Conner Marina.


2008-09 – Port staff develop a strategic plan to inform the port’s long-term decision-making process.


2009 – Port completes construction of multi-use building at La Conner Marina.  


2009 -- La Conner Marina earns a Clean Marina Program Certification from Clean Marina Washington, a partnership of government agencies and environmental advocates.


2009 – Installation of fiber-optic network completed at Skagit Regional Airport and Bayview Business Park.


2010 – Construction of port-owned 13,000-square-foot building (now leased to Impressions Worldwide Inc.) completed at Bayview Business Park.


2010 – Port commission adopts updated document setting Airport Minimum Standards and Guideline for Construction, effectively making airport property available for development by public-private partnerships.


2010 -- The Port of Skagit Board of Commissioners approves a Resource Conservation Plan with a goal of reducing energy consumption in port-occupied facilities.


Fall 2010 -- The Port of Skagit is home to nearly 90 businesses ranging from aviation- and marine-related companies to light and heavy industrial enterprises employing more than 1,000 full- and part-time workers. Port tenants are reaching out to almost every corner of the globe with their goods and services.


Summer 2011 -- The Port of Skagit completes the first phase of a project to rebuild the main runway at Skagit Regional Airport.


June 2012 -- The Port of Skagit acquires two buildings at the La Conner Marina from Westport Shipyard Inc. The port leases the buildings, which total 59,000 square feet, to two current marina tenants that are planning to expand. Over time, the facilities will enable Mavrik Marine and La Conner Maritime Services to create and retain 103 jobs.


October 2012 -- With the completion of the second phase of the reconstruction project, the main runway at Skagit Regional Airport is redesignated 11-29. The project raised the eastern end of the runway by 5 feet, replaced the drainage system and converted the surface from a shed section to a crown section. At $14.4 million, it was the most expensive project in the history of the port.


January 2014 - The Port of Skagit begins celebrating its 50th anniversary. The port is home to 78 businesses ranging from aviation- and marine-related companies to light and heavy industrial enterprises. They employ nearly 1,150 full- and part-time workers. Port tenants are reaching out to almost every corner of the globe with their goods and services.


In the 50 years of port history, many individuals have contributed to sowing and cultivating a vision of prosperity for the people of Skagit County. The Skagit Valley community now is harvesting the benefits of the Port of Skagit’s efforts to create “Good Jobs for Our Community.”

100 Years of Ports in Washington

Throughout the country, as settlers migrated into an area, they often chose locations near water. Washington State was no different - with its many deep harbors and navigable rivers, towns sprung up throughout the state, dependent on access to water for movement of goods and people. Some things never change!

In 1889, the new state constitution declared that the beds of navigable waters belonged to the people, and gave the Legislature power to designate which of those beds would become harbors. In 1911, after citizens lobbied for the right to control access to the waterfront, the Legislature passed the Port District Act, allowing the people to form a port district and elect commissioners to govern it.

In September of 1911, the Port of Seattle was formed, becoming the first autonomous municipal corporation in the nation to engage in port terminal operation and commerce development. The Port of Grays Harbor was formed shortly thereafter. Since then, more than 80 port districts have formed in Washington, all contributing to the state's healthy trade economy.

Currently, there are 75 public port districts in Washington. Large and small, east and west, Washington's ports are active in many different areas of economic development, providing jobs and economic stimulation for their communities.

For more information about ports in Washington, CLICK HERE to see the website of the Washington Public Ports Association.