Letter on proposed logging in “doughnut hole” of Upper Skagit Watershed

Letter on proposed logging in “doughnut hole” of Upper Skagit Watershed

ConservationNWAdmin / Jan 03, 2019 / British Columbia, Coast to Cascades, Grizzly Bears, Protecting Wildlands

A proposal by British Columbia’s government for logging and other natural resource extraction in an important area of the Upper Skagit River Watershed has met strong opposition from both sides of the border.

Most recently, Conservation Northwest and partners in our Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative submitted the following letter to BC Timber Sales Planning Forester Qingcen Cai, expressing concerns about the effects logging in this unprotected “doughnut hole” would have on local fish, wildlife and threatened grizzly bear populations.

Grizzly bears in the Coast to Cascades
Grizzly bears in central British Columbia. Photo: Jeremy Williams

The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative, led by Conservation Northwest International Programs Director Joe Scott, is a collaborative effort to stem the ongoing loss of grizzly bear range and promote their recovery in the transboundary ecosystems of southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state. All five grizzly bear populations within the project area are classified as threatened.

Our latest comments follow a letter we submitted in September 2018 urging Washington Governor Jay Inslee to voice concerns over this proposal and request the British Columbia government to stop these logging operations. Concerns over these plans have also been expressed by the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and many others.

RE: Response to request for Public Comment (10/21/18) on Proposed District Timber Sale Plans in the Silver Daisy-Twenty Six Mile area

December 20, 2018

PDF of letter

 

Dear Qingcen Cai,

We request a stop work order on logging in the Silver Daisy-Twenty Six Mile Creek area, otherwise known as the “doughnut hole”. Such action will allow government ministries, First Nations, the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission (SEEC) and stakeholders to develop a plan and timetable that can incorporate the area in to Manning/Skagit Valley Provincial Parks and removed from the Timber Harvesting Land Base.

We are concerned and puzzled that BCTS is logging in the area given the years of ongoing negotiations between the SEEC, BC Parks and Imperial Metals (Giant Copper) to acquire the mineral claims within the doughnut hole and transfer the lands to the BC Parks system; and that government is aware of these interests and has encouraged the dialogue over the years.

The watersheds in question have long been of conservation interest to the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission, BC Parks, First Nations, scientists and conservation NGOs for decades for their superior conservation and water quality, recreational and aesthetic values and most importantly their location. The Manning and Skagit Parks complex is one of BC’s crown jewels and headwaters of the Skagit watershed.

We are concerned that the disruption caused within and around the park by traffic from logging trucks, increased access, degradation of the greater watersheds and potential impacts to fish and wildlife like salmonids and grizzly bears is inconsistent with BC Parks mandates and the interests of tourists and local communities.

This area is important for grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades.

The BC Auditor General highlighted the Critically Endangered North Cascades as BC’s only Grizzly Bear Population Unit (GBPU) with a recovery plan. The area in question has significant high suitable grizzly bear habitat. Further degrading that habitat with new roads and increased cumulative effects poses the risk that the habitat effectiveness of the GBPU generally is also degraded.

BC Timber Sales should provide a good example of appropriate logging from geographic, operational and sustainability standpoints. Logging in the Silver Daisy-Twenty Six Mile area fails on all counts.

We respectfully request that you issue a stop work order and initiate a process to fill in the doughnut hole with ecologically sustainable activities geared toward wildlife habitat and primitive recreation.

Sincerely,

Johnny Mikes, Field Director
Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative

Joe Scott, International Programs Director
Conservation Northwest

The headwaters of the Skagit River. The “doughnut hole” of unprotected land between Skagit and Manning Provincial Parks is highlighted in yellow. Graphic: SEEC
Check out our involvement in the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative to learn more about our efforts to recover threatened grizzly bears and safeguard their habitat in southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state.