Larsen Hails Illabot Creek Preservation as Victory for PNW Environment, Economy
WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today cheered President Obama’s signature to designate Illabot Creek in Skagit County as a Wild and Scenic River. Illabot Creek is a critical habitat for threatened wild Chinook salmon, steelhead, bull trout and other wildlife, as well as a popular recreational destination for fishers and hunters.
“The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful parts of the country in large part because of waterways like Illabot Creek and the diverse wildlife that call it home. That is why I have worked so hard to protect this vital habitat where both residents and visitors can enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking and other outdoor activities. It took three separate tries over six years, but with perseverance and many dedicated local partners, Illabot Creek will remain wild and scenic for generations to come.
“When we preserve open spaces like Illabot Creek, we protect salmon spawning waters that support healthy fish populations and a vibrant fishing industry that creates thousands of jobs. We protect the clean and free-flowing waters that feed the Skagit River. And we protect the outdoor recreation opportunities for today and in the future that are so integral to our way of life in Northwest Washington.
“Healthy waters, lands and wildlife are essential to a high quality of life and a strong economy, which is why I will continue working hard to protect Washington state’s environment. Victories may not always come quickly, but persistence won the day for our environment,” Larsen said.
Larsen first introduced the bill in 2009 with Senator Patty Murray. It passed the House in 2012, but did not clear the Senate. Larsen then worked with Rep. Susan DelBene, Sen. Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell to reintroduce the bill in 2013.
Illabot Creek flows for 14.3 miles through Skagit County, starting at Snow King Mountain 7,500 feet up in the Cascades and tumbling down to join the Skagit River at 500 feet above sea level. The creek is home to one of the largest bull trout populations in Puget Sound, as well as Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, Sockeye, Steelhead trout and Cutthroat trout. Bald eagles and many other species of birds also live in the habitat surrounding the creek.
The Illabot Creek provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which the President signed today.