More than a century ago, Native American tribes watched settlers dam, dike and straighten the area’s streams and rivers.
Today the federal EPA gave those same tribes millions of dollars to undo some of those changes.
During a ceremony at a 140-acre site near the Upper Skagit Indian Reservation near Sedro-Woolley, the EPA handed over $2 million to 19 tribes to fund several restoration projects. The money will be used at that site to remove dikes and other obstacles from Hansen Creek, a major tributary of the Skagit River.
The earthen berms that keep Hansen Creek on a straight and narrow course through the Northern State Recreation Area will be breached later this year, creating new salmon habitat.
The stream will flow onto 35 Skagit County-owned acres once used for farming, said Lauren Rich, an environmental planner with the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. In about five years, the resulting wetlands and streambed will start to look natural, she said.
It’s all part of an ongoing project to restore 140 acres of salmon habitat in the county’s 726-acre recreation area on Helmick Road, an effort that also will help with flood control.