Mining company drops rights to Upper Skagit watershed in key preservation step

The British Columbia government has announced the surrender of mining rights at the headwaters of the Skagit River, following yearslong controversy over protection of one of the region’s premier salmon rivers.

Under an agreement announced Wednesday by the office of the B.C. premier, Imperial Metals will return to the province of B.C. all of its mining and related rights within a more than 14,000-acre area for a 24 million Canadian dollar ($19.1 million) buyout.

The area is within the Silverdaisy watershed, surrounded by Skagit Valley Provincial Park and E.C. Manning Provincial Park.

The Skagit Environment Endowment Commission, a binational group charged with protecting the Upper Skagit, was also a signer on the agreement. The commission was established in 1984 under an agreement between the province and Seattle, in effect until 2064, to protect the Upper Skagit watershed.

The commission consists of 16 appointees, half from each side of the border.

(WWU Professor of Environmental Science) Leo Bodensteiner, U.S. co-chair for the commission, added, “Our collective stewardship of the Upper Skagit transcends geographical boundaries as this watershed provides a critical corridor for salmon, steelhead, and bull trout, which have protected status on both sides of the border.”

Monday, January 24, 2022 - 1:58pm