Government halts logging in Skagit River Valley

Wilderness Committee presses government to close hole between two parks

Plans for renewed logging and mining near E.C. Manning and Skagit Valley provincial parks are raising fears of environmental damage on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border | Wilderness Committee

The B.C. government is putting a halt to all logging in the Skagit River Valley.

As Business in Vancouver reported earlier this year, conservation groups started ringing alarm bells when they discovered that Imperial Metals (TSX:III) had applied for an exploration permit in an area commonly called the “donut hole” – so called because it is an exclusion area right in the middle of two provincial parks.

The donut hole is about 6,000 hectares in size. It was left out of Class A park designation when the Skagit Valley recreation area was declared a provincial park in 1996. Skagit Valley Provincial Park merges with E.C. Manning Provincial Park, except in the donut hole area.

The area borders the U.S. and there are concerns over industrial activities like logging and road building having negative impacts on the watershed. On the U.S. side, the Skagit River is an important river for chinook salmon.

Groups like the Wilderness Committee were more concerned about the immediate plans for logging in the area than mineral exploration. BC Timber Sales had planned to log several cutblocks in the Silverdaisy Mountain area.

But Forest Minister Doug Donaldson announced today, December 4, that there will be no logging permitted in the Skagit River Valley.

"Effective immediately, BC Timber Sales will no longer award timber licences in the Silverdaisy area, ensuring no additional commercial forest harvesting occurs in that area," Donaldson said in a press 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."

In 2015, timber sale licences was awarded for the Silverdaisy area.

“Timber harvesting under this licence has now ended and no future licences will be awarded by BC Timber Sales,” a government press release states.

Wilderness Committee campaigner Joe Foy applauded today’s decision to halt logging, but in a statement said the committee wants to see the donut hole closed entirely to all industrial activities, including mineral exploration.

“We want to see the provincial government and the governments of First Nations with interest in the Donut Hole sit down and hammer out an agreement to protect the area from logging and mining,” Foy said.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv