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.

Use our simple form to send a message to Premier Horgan and his staff. Or take action through our Healthy Watersheds Campaign!


Read more in this Op-Ed by Indigenous leaders, or take action to call on the B.C. government to block industrial mining proposals just over the border.

We recently joined more than a dozen First Nations, Native American tribes and conservation and recreation groups in placing a full-page ad in the Vancouver Sun calling on British Columbia to deny a permit for mining in the headwaters of the Skagit River.

This follows organizational comments we submitted in April, and more than 500 Washingtonians taking action and contacting elected leaders through our May alert. Our senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and seven Members of Congress responded by calling on B.C. Premier John Horgan to deny the mining permit, but now we need your help to ensure that happens.

News on Skagit Headwaters

Our full-page ad in the Vancouver Sun running the week of June 17, 2019 with more than a dozen First Nations, tribes and organizations.

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.

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.

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