Protecting the Skagit Headwaters

We stand with Tribes and First Nations in Washington and British Columbia in saying no to mining and clearcutting in the Skagit Headwaters.

Read more in this Op-Ed by Indigenous leaders, then take action to call on Washington’s elected officials to pressure the B.C. government to block industrial mining proposals just over the border.

In response to new clearcutting and mining threats in the Skagit Headwaters, we’ve submitted multiple comments to the province of British Columbia on behalf of our international conservation programs and approximately 4,000 members expressing strong opposition to a proposal to mine in the headwaters of the Skagit River.

Now, we need YOU to act to call on Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to pressure British Columbia and its Premier John Horgan to block new mining in the heart of this transboundary watershed.

News on Skagit Headwaters

Logging in the upper Skagit “Donut Hole”, looking south towards Manning Provincial Park and Washington state. Photo: Wilderness Committee

An unacceptable risk

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.

Ross Dam. Photo: SEEC

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.

Join us in speaking up for the Skagit Headwaters!

The so-called “Donut Hole” of unprotected lands between British Columbia’s Skagit Valley and E.C. Manning provincial parks is also recognized as important habitat for North Cascades grizzly bears, spotted owls, bull trout and many other species of concern.

In addition to wildlife values, the mountains, forests, lakes and streams of the Skagit Headwaters provide clean drinking water and recreational opportunities for a growing number of Canadians and Americans who seek peace and refuge from the noise and bustle of our ever-growing Cascadia region.

Skagit Valley Provincial Park. Photo: BC Parks

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.

This is no place for a new industrial mine. Please send a message to elected leaders today.

Suggested comments on mining proposal in British Columbia’s Skagit “Donut Hole”

Subject: Please urge British Columbia and Premier Horgan to deny Imperial Metals Giant Copper mine

Dear Governor Jay Inslee and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell,

I am writing with grave concern regarding a recent permit application by Canadian mining company Imperial Metals to open new industrial mining operations at the Giant Copper Property within the sensitive Skagit Headwaters just over the Washington-British Columbia border.

Please urge the British Columbia provincial government and Premier John Horgan to deny this risky mining application, and put a stop to new mining, logging and road-building within the unprotected “Donut Hole” in the upper Skagit Watershed. Conservation Northwest and many other local, regional and indigenous groups on both sides of the border have also shared their concerns with provincial authorities.

This is an urgent threat to Washingtonians and Canadians. 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. The approval of Imperial Metals’ permit application will violate the spirit and intent of the High Ross Treaty, the creation of the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission, and the stated opposition of indigenous nations and conservationists on both sides of the international border.

The so-called “Donut Hole” of unprotected lands between British Columbia’s Skagit Valley and E.C. Manning provincial parks is also recognized as important habitat for North Cascades grizzly bears, spotted owls, bull trout and many other species of concern.

In addition to wildlife values, the mountains, forests, lakes and streams of the Skagit Headwaters provide clean drinking water and recreational opportunities for a growing number of Canadians and Americans who seek peace and refuge from the noise and bustle of our ever-growing Cascadia region.

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.

Please contact your counterparts in British Columbia and tell them to deny this permit and new industrial mining, logging and road-building in the Skagit Headwaters.

Thank you,

READ OUR JANUARY LETTER OPPOSING NEW LOGGING AND ROAD-BUILDING IN THE SKAGIT DONUT HOLE. OR LEARN MORE ABOUT GROWING INTERNATIONAL PUSHBACK IN THIS ARTICLE FROM THE NARWHAL
The headwaters of Silverdaisy Creek in the-upper Skagit Donut Hole. Photo: Wilderness Committee