Today, Washington Wild coordinated a letter signed by 22 conservation, recreation and wildlife organizations to the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission Co-Chairs regarding proposed mining activities in the Canadian portion of the Upper Skagit Watershed. The organizations expressed their concern about the extensive logging in the Silverdaisy area and the recently proposed exploratory drilling in the Canadian headwaters of the Skagit River.
Neither the previously allowed logging activities, pending timber sales, nor this latest mineral exploration permit proposal are in alignment or in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Treaty. The proposed mineral exploration activities including creating access roads and trails, conducting surface exploration drilling with associated water supply and catchment sumps, and mechanical trenching over a five-year period of continued disturbance are wholly unacceptable.
In September, Washington Wild coordinated a letter signed by 14 organizations that applauded Mayor Durkan’s leadership on this issue and requested that Premier Horgan advise British Columbia Timber Sales that its logging plans are inconsistent with the 1984 Treaty and to immediately stop logging activities and direct British Columbia Timber Sales to halt any further planning and on-the-ground activities in the Silverdaisy area. In December, Washington Wild coordinated a second letter signed by 19 conservation, recreation and wildlife organizations to Planning Forester Mr. Quigcen Cai regarding proposed logging activities in the Canadian portion of the Upper Skagit Watershed.
The Skagit River is an important resource for the people of the U.S. and Canada. We urge a renewed international partnership and commitment to the stewardship of the Skagit River that includes conservation of the headwaters and recognition of the principles embodied in the 1984 Treaty.
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.