In an area of the Skagit River headwaters in Canada where opposition to a mining proposal has been mounting, a division of the government of British Columbia will no longer allow logging.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announced Wednesday it will no longer authorize logging in 14,300 acres between Skagit Valley and E.C. Manning provincial parks.
That area is referred to as Silverdaisy, because of Silverdaisy Mountain, and as the “donut hole” because it sits between protected lands in British Columbia and Washington.
“Effective immediately, BC Timber Sales will no longer award timber licences in the Silverdaisy area,” Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said in a news release. “We’ve heard loud and clear from individuals and groups on both sides of the border that logging should stop in the Silverdaisy, and we’re making sure that commercial timber harvesting in that area does not continue.”
Recent logging was allowed on about 430 acres under a sale awarded in 2015, according to the release. With its completion, logging now comes to a permanent close in the area.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announcement did not address the proposal for exploratory mining in the same region of the Skagit River watershed where officials on both sides of the border have raised concerns about impacts to the largest river in the Puget Sound region.
That decision may lie with British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources.
“We welcome the news that B.C. will no longer allow logging in the heart of the Skagit Headwaters,” Joe Scott, International Programs Director for Conservation Northwest, said in a news release from the nonprofit. “Yet the threat of industrial mining still hangs over the transboundary Skagit Watershed, and the orcas, salmon, tribes and local communities that depend on its clean water.”
Conservation Northwest and other nonprofits, indigenous groups and government officials have called on British Columbia Premier John Horgan to deny the mining application from Imperial Metals.
The company applied in March for permits to do exploratory mining for gold and copper in the area.
As the Skagit River passes through Whatcom and Skagit counties, it provides water for drinking, irrigation, fish and recreation.
The river supports all five species of Pacific salmon as well as steelhead trout. Some of those fish, particularly threatened Puget Sound chinook salmon, are critical food for endangered Southern Resident orca whales.
Those opposed to the mining proposal say it would put the river and everything that relies on it at risk, as well as potentially violate the High Ross Treaty between Canada and the United States.