The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife held a grand opening event Wednesday afternoon after recently moving into a new headquarters facility at the Port of Ridgefield.
The agency’s Region 5 operation had spent 20 years in its Vancouver location, much longer than officials had anticipated.
“We’re really excited about our new partnership with the Port of Ridgefield and the Ridgefield community,” said John A. Long, WDFW Region 5 director.
The agency’s old facility was a Fred Meyer home and garden center before Fish and Wildlife moved in. As a consequence, the agency had challenges with parking for the public as well as for its staff and its own equipment.
“It was supposed to be a temporary measure, but you know how those things are,” Long said. “Having a fresh start, or a reboot, is really exciting.”
Fish and Wildlife’s new facility is built on 3.5 acres, was built to suit the agency’s needs — including space to decontaminate equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species from one waterway to another. At 31,000 square feet, the new facility also makes room for roughly 120 employees who work out of the office. It also offers greater access for people with disabilities and in general much more parking.
Port of Ridgefield CEO Brent Grening said the facility cost nearly $8 million to build, with the port bonding half that amount while the rest was financed with port capital.
“We’re very, very happy to have been able to get the deal, get it built and get them in,” Grening said.
The department moved into the new building earlier this month, but Wednesday’s event was a celebration of moving into the new location.
The ceremony included a raising of the flags by Boy Scouts, a ribbon cutting, speeches by several local and state officials, and, of course, cake.
Fish and Wildlife’s Region 5 office serves six counties in Southwest Washington — Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Lewis and Klickitat counties.