Man-made Ross Lake, located in the Skagit Valley, straddles the Canadian/American border.  Photo by Gordon Cook

Man-made Ross Lake, located in the Skagit Valley, straddles the Canadian/American border. Photo by Gordon Cook

International coalition launches campaign in opposition to proposed mining in local ‘donut hole’

Conservation, wildlife groups, First Nations call on BC Gov’t to deny mining permit in Skagit Valley

A coalition of more than 110 conservation recreation and wildlife groups, as well as local elected officials, businesses and First Nations from both British Columbia and Washington are redoubling their efforts to oppose a mining permit in one of Hope’s local waterways.

Late last year, British Columbia-based Imperial Metals applied for an exploration permit for an area between Skagit Valley and Manning Provincial Park known as a ‘donut hole,’ which is unprotected crown land.

“The recent threats to the Skagit Headwaters have underscored how important this landscape is to those in British Columbia and Washington for fish, wildlife, clean water, recreation, (Indigenous) lifeways, and a sustained quality of life,” said Tom Uniack, executive director for Washington Wild.

And while Imperial’s five-year mining proposal includes activities such as creating access roads, conducting surface exploration drilling with associated water supply and catchment sumps, and mechanical trenching, its connection to the Mount Polley mine disaster of 2014, which spilled more than 2.6 billion gallons of toxic sludge into the Fraser River watershed in one of the biggest environmental disasters in that area’s history, may be the coalition’s biggest worry.

“It would be hard to imagine a worse place for a mine than the Skagit Headwaters or a mine company with a worse record to be involved than Imperial Metals,” said Joe Foy, co-executive director of Wilderness Committee.

“The proposed mining in the Skagit headwaters poses a significant and devastating threat to our inherent Indigenous Title and Rights and the fish, wildlife and natural and cultural resources on which our existence is based,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

“We call on the British Columbia government to honour their obligation to our people and preserve benefits for all of us who call British Columbia home, and exercise their authority to deny this permit. We need a provincial government that will stand up for the environment and uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Located near Hope, the Skagit Watershed is also critical to the health and well-being of the region’s residents and local recreation-based economies.

“Destinations like Manning and Skagit Provincial Park in the Skagit headwaters are part of an accessible network of protected lands that connect southwestern BC to our watershed neighbors in Washington state,” said Liz Johnson, general manager of Patagonia Vancouver.

The Skagit headwaters including Manning and Skagit provincial parks supports an amazing amount of important fish and wildlife habitats. The Skagit River is well-loved for its high-quality rainbow trout fly fishing opportunities. Bird enthusiasts know that over 200 species of birds can be found here. The Skagit headwaters also encompass wild landscapes essential to the survival and recovery of vulnerable local wildlife populations such as grizzly bear, spotted owl and bull trout.

“The protection of this area is important not just for the wilderness in British Columbia, but for the aquatic habitat (of our neighbours) downstream in Washington State,” said Bill Bosch, president of BC Wildlife Federation.


 

@SarahGawdin on Twitter
SarahGawdin on Instagram
Sarah.Gawdin@HopeStandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The University of the Fraser Valley Peace and Reconciliation Centre
UFV students hold online forum on peace and reconciliation

Two online sessions on Feb. 25 include student research

A new Fraser Valley food hub in Abbotsford will include shared kitchen space that can be accessed by small and medium-sized businesses. (Stock photo by Robyn Wright from Pixabay)
Almost $2M to support new Fraser Valley food hub in Abbotsford

Project being developed by District of Mission and Mission Community Skills Centre

The Hope Fire Department is sending a team up Hope Lookout in lieu of the traditional Climb the Wall event. The climb up the Lookout Trail is postponed until mid-March due to heavy snowfall. (Photo/Hope Fire Department)
HFD’s Climb the Wall event postponed due to heavy snow

This year’s climb now takes place on March 14 at the Hope Lookout Trail

Classroom chairs (Pixabay photo)
SD78 expecting fewer students in schools over next three years

The school district shared its projected enrolment numbers at the board meeting on Feb. 16

Nietzsche, the ginger cat who worked at The Book Man, poses for a photo on Sept. 7, 2017. He died on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Famous Chilliwack bookstore cat, Nietzsche, dies

‘Every single thing you could want in a cat, Nietzsche embodied,’ says Amber Price

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

Most Read