Today, an international coalition of more than 140 conservation, recreation and wildlife groups celebrated as the British Columbia Government announced that they would halt future plans to log pristine areas in the Canadian headwaters of the iconic Skagit River. A coalition of conservation, recreation and wildlife groups as well as elected officials, outdoor industry leaders, local businesses and Tribes and First Nations from both Canada and the United States have been opposing the logging and mining in the Skagit Headwaters for more than a year.
Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development released the following statement:
“Effective immediately, BC Timber Sales will no longer award timber licenses in the Silverdaisy area, ensuring no additional commercial forest harvesting occurs in that area. “We’ve heard loud and clear from individuals and groups on both sides of the border that logging should stop in the Silverdaisy, and we’re making sure that commercial timber harvesting in that area does not continue.”
Since 2017, Washington Wild coordinated two joint letters signed by dozens of stakeholders opposing the logging in a “donut hole” area of unprotected public land between Manning and Skagit Provincial Parks in British Columbia. In 2018, WA Wild coordinated an international response to the announcement of additional mining threats to the same area of the Skagit Headwaters. That effort resulted in the launch of a paid media print and digital campaignin the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers calling on Premier Horgan and the BC Government to deny a proposed mining permit on crown land between Manning and Skagit Provincial Parks. To date, more than 6,000 individuals and more than 140 organizations have sent letters or emails to the British Columbia government and other entities opposing the mining permit.
We are still awaiting a decision on the mining permit form the British Columbia Government.
The company proposing to mine in an unprotected area of the Skagit Headwaters, Imperial Metals, was responsible for the infamous Mount Polley mine disaster of 2014, which spilled more than 2.6 billion gallons of toxic sludge into the Fraser River watershed, one of the biggest environmental disasters in Canadian history.
The risk of such a disaster in the Skagit, home to Puget Sound’s healthiest remaining runs of wild salmon and steelhead—vital food for southern resident orca whales as well as cherished resources for Native American nations and other local communities—is simply unacceptable.
The priceless ecological and cultural values of the Skagit Watershed have been recognized for decades, notably through the High Ross Treaty of 1984 in which the City of Seattle and British Columbia reached an agreement to avoid flooding more than 5,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat and recreation lands. The Treaty also created the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission (SEEC), the bi-lateral body intended to conserve and protect wilderness and wildlife habitat, enhance recreation opportunities, and acquire mineral or timber rights consistent with those values.
The approval of Imperial Metals’ permit application would violate the spirit and intent of the High Ross Treaty, the creation of the SEEC, and the stated opposition of indigenous nations and conservationists on both sides of the international border.
Demand for such nearby natural areas will continue to grow, not shrink. To not recognize and plan for such demand is short-sighted and counter to the interests of this and future generations. The Skagit Headwaters are a regional showcase for international conservation cooperation, supporting the quality of life that in turn underpins our regional economic, ecological and cultural vibrancy.