British Columbia Drops Logging Plans for Border Watershed

SEATTLE (CN) – British Columbia will stop logging in the headwaters of the Skagit River due to environmental concerns, the province’s government announced Wednesday.

The British Columbia Legislature building in Victoria. (William Dotinga / CNS)

All timber sales in the area’s Silverdaisy management area are now halted “effective immediately,” said Doug Donaldson, British Columbia’s forestry minister, in a statement.

“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,” Donaldson said.

The watershed, 125 miles north of Seattle just over the U.S.-Canada border, provides more than 30% of the freshwater in Puget Sound. The Skagit supports the largest run of chum salmon in the contiguous United States, according to a letter written by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to British Columbia Premier John Horgan in 2018 denouncing the logging plans.

Durkan expressed “grave concerns” that Canada’s proposed commercial timber harvest would violate the 1984 United States-Canada High Ross Treaty. Under the treaty, Seattle agreed not to raise the level of Ross Lake dam, which would flood old-growth forest land in Canada, and Canada promised to provide Seattle with hydropower through 2065.

The watershed, which sits between two protected British Columbia parks, was also set for protection as soon as mineral rights could be resolved.

“Somewhere along the line … there was a lapse in corporate memory. We’re restoring that today,” the province’s environment minister George Heyman said in a statement.

The province is still debating plans for mineral exploration in the area.

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