Earlier today Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-2) and Senator Patty Murray (WA) introduced legislation to designate Illabot Creek as a Wild and Scenic River (H.R. 1593 / S. 635). The legislation will protect the free-flowing character of Illabot Creek, an important habitat for threatened wild Chinook salmon, steelhead, bull trout and other wildlife, while maintaining recreational opportunities to explore this remote river gorge. Larsen and Murray’s legislation has broad local support from elected officials, environmentalists, fishermen, agriculture, and other stakeholders.
The Skagit River watershed supports one of the largest concentrations of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48 states and is a popular attraction for paddlers. Because of the abundance of salmon and the high quality of habitat, Illabot Creek is the center of foraging activity and supports two communal night roosts. One roost area is within the existing Skagit Wild and Scenic River corridor. The second is within the proposed Illabot Creek Wild and Scenic River designation.
"Protection of Illabot Creek is a high priority for our membership given previous threats to develop this creek for hydropower." said Thomas O'Keefe American Whitewater's Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director. "While the Skagit River system provides important hydropower resources for our region, the highest and best use of Illabot Creek is as a free-flowing tributary protected for it’s resource values. For our members Illabot Creek is a highlight of winter float trips on the Skagit River that provide a family-oriented wildlife-viewing experience. Interest in this activity has increased significantly in recent years and as it continues to grow, protecting Illabot Creek is critical to maintaining the quality of this experience that draws paddlers from across the region and around the country."
Letter of support to the Congressional delegation for designation of Illabot Creek as Wild and Scenic.