Canadian Media Highlights Mining in Skagit Headwaters and WA Wild Joint Letter
The Narwhal, a Victoria B.C. online newspaper, featured an article “Imperial Metals’ plan to drill in Skagit headwaters spawns cross-border backlash” quoting a letter coordinated by WA Wild and signed by more than 20 organizations.
“Neither the previously allowed logging activities, pending timber sales, nor this latest mineral exploration permit are in alignment or in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Treaty,” says the letter, which is signed by groups such as Washington Wild, Washington Environmental Council and Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.
Washington Wild coordinated several joint letters expressing concern about the extensive logging in the Silverdaisy area and the recently proposed exploratory drilling in the Canadian headwaters of the Skagit River.
The proposed mining activities including creating access roads, conducting surface exploration drilling with associated water supply and catchment sumps, and mechanical trenching over a five-year period of continued disturbance. These activities threaten the resources of the Upper Skagit River which supports large, diverse fish and wildlife populations and provides over 30 percent of the freshwater flowing into Puget Sound.
WA Wild is helping lead a coalition of conservation, recreation and wildlife organizations to oppose these developments in the Skagit Headwaters through joint comment letters, working with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin and Washington’s Congressional Delegation.
Read the article here.
In 1984 a treaty was signed between the City of Seattle and the British Columbia government to resolve disputes over Ross Dam and to maintain the environmental integrity of the Skagit Watershed. In addition, it created the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission (SEEC) to administer this collaborative partnership. Both governments established SEEC’s primary mission: (1) To conserve and protect wilderness and wildlife habitat, (2) To enhance recreational opportunities in the Skagit, and (3) To acquire mineral or timber rights consistent with conservation and recreational objectives.
The proposed logging and mining in the Silverdaisy area is inconsistent with the spirit and intent of the 1984 treaty. It will have significant impact on the wilderness, wildlife habitat, and fishery resources of the Upper Skagit River. The Skagit Watershed supports large, diverse fish and wildlife populations and provides over 30 percent of the freshwater flowing into Puget Sound. The watershed also provides critical grizzly bear and spotted owl habitat. Ross Lake supports one of the largest and most diverse populations of bull trout in Western Washington and lower British Columbia. This species is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Ninety percent of the bull trout in Ross spawn in the Upper Skagit and the logging in this area will increase sediment potentially decimating this population. Sediment smothers eggs, kills the invertebrates that the juveniles need for food, and makes it harder to find what food there is.
In addition to the direct impacts of logging, there is concern that road development and land clearing will make it harder to prevent the proposed copper mine and incorporate the donut hole land into Manning Park. A copper mine in the upper Skagit would be devastating. Copper is toxic to salmon and even small amounts can be detrimental. The Skagit River supports the largest populations of threatened steelhead and Chinook salmon in the Puget Sound, and the largest run of chum salmon in the conterminous US. These fish are a critical food resource for the imperiled Southern Resident Killer Whales. The State of Washington has invested approximately $90 million dollars in salmon recovery funds into the Skagit River while the City of Seattle has invested an additional $77 million dollars in habitat and flow protection. Mining in the headwaters threatens our investments in salmon recovery and our collective goals to restore salmon populations that are critical for orca survival; tribal, sport, and commercial fisheries; and the overall health of the Salish Sea.