The Illabot Creek restoration project that was completed in September recently received an award from the state chapter of the American Public Works Association.

The project restored the creek between Rockport and Marblemount to multiple winding channels where it had previously been straightened.

The project, done in the area where the creek passes under Rockport Cascade Road, received the honor of 2019 Project of the Year for endeavors under $5 million, according to a Skagit County news release.

The creek received federal designation in 2014 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“Now, the creek flows as nature intended — connected to its historic floodplain and complete with side channels, improved riparian growth, and a variety of logjams to slow water flow and provide salmon a place to spawn and grow for generations to come,” the news release said.

Skagit County Public Works and the Skagit River System Cooperative, which together led the project, were recognized for the engineering and habitat restoration work when the award was presented April 25, according to the release.

The cooperative is a natural resources agency that represents the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

“Illabot Creek ... is one of the most productive tributaries in the Skagit River, supporting relatively large populations of chinook, chum coho, and pink salmon,” the award nomination form states.

The state chapter of the American Public Works Association said in a news release that it chose the Illabot Creek Project for the award because of the collaboration involved and the resulting salmon recovery, the jobs it created and transportation infrastructure upgrades.

The project included construction of two 100-foot bridges on Cascade River Road to reduce the risk of infrastructure damage from floods while improving fish habitat.

“The keys to the project’s success included complex coordination,” the state chapter’s release states. “The project was a unique, large-scale salmon habitat restoration project in combination with substantial improvements to the transportation infrastructure.”

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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