Puget Sound Innovation Stories

Making connections for salmon in the Skagit

Photo credit: Eric Mickelson, Skagit River System Cooperative

Project Summary

Illabot Creek is a highly productive tributary of the upper Skagit River that supports relatively large populations of Chinook, chum, coho, and pink salmon, native char, and steelhead trout. Due to its importance in providing spawning and rearing habitat, much of the watershed has already been protected or restored except for a heavily degraded half-mile reach. Previous diking in an area near the Rockport-Cascade Road has degraded habitat conditions by straightening the channel, degrading riparian habitat, and reducing area available to salmon. The Illabot Creek Alluvial Fan Restoration project aims to connect Illabot Creek to its historic channel, restore degraded floodplain habitat, protect public infrastructure, and provide essential habitat for salmonid species.

What worked:

  • Removal of 1,500 feet of dike reconnected Illabot Creek with historic channels on the floodplain and its alluvial fan.
  • Channel reconfiguration and connectivity in Illabot Creek provides areas where fish can rest, feed, and spawn.
  • Installed log jams slowed water movement and provided habitat and prey sources for fish.
  • Constructed two bridges on Rockport-Cascade Road to allow for multiple channels and support the natural process of channel migration.


  • Illabot Creek was reconnected with historic channels on the floodplain that allows natural processes of erosion, deposition, and channel development to occur across the alluvial fan.
  • New and existing infrastructure including an existing bridge, two new bridges, and powerlines will be maintained and protected from erosion.
  • Natural processes of erosion, deposition, and channel development to occur which will substantially increase spawning and rearing habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and other species.


  • Congressional District: 1
  • Legislative District: 39
  • WRIA: 4
  • County: Skagit

Project Partners and Funders:

  • Skagit River System Cooperative, project sponsor
  • Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund
  • NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center
  • Washington State RCO Salmon Recovery Funding Board
  • Seattle City Light
  • Pacific Salmon Commission
  • US Forest Service
  • Skagit County
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Private Landowner Pauline Ryan
  • Sierra Pacific Industries


More Info

Publish Date: June 13, 2018
Category: Salmon
Congressional Districts: Congressional Dist. 1
Legislative Districts: Legislative Dist. 39
Counties: Skagit
Habitat Types: Rivers & Streams
Restoration Focuses: Salmon