Today, an international coalition of more than 140 conservation, recreation and wildlife groups as well as local elected officials, businesses and Tribes and First Nations continues to grow to a proposed mining permit in the Skagit Headwaters. A letter signed by more than 30 British Columbia organizations and local businesses was the latest evidence of opposition to Imperial Metals’ proposed mining permit near Manning and Skagit Provincial Parks in the Skagit Headwaters.
“The opposition to the proposed mine permit in the Skagit Headwaters continues to grow as we await a decision by the BC Government. This latest push is highlighted by British Columbia organizations, outdoor industry leaders and local businesses that would be impacted economically by new mining in this incredible area,” said Tom Uniack, Executive Director for Washington Wild, a statewide conservation organization who is coordinating an international coalition of U.S. and Canadian stakeholders and Tribes and First Nations in opposition to the proposed mining and logging in the Skagit Headwaters.
In June, members of the coalition launched a paid media print and digital campaign in 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 have sent letters or emails to the British Columbia government and other entities opposing the mining permit.
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.