The Skagit Headwaters Donut Hole has got to be one of the strangest names for a wilderness area we’ve ever seen. As its name suggests, this area is a “hole” in provincial park protection afforded to the parkland that surrounds it.
The Skagit headwaters region is within the unceded Indigenous lands of the Upper Skagit, Stó:lō, Syilx and Nlaka’pamux peoples.
In 1996 The Skagit Valley in southwest BC had its protected area status upgraded by the BC government from Recreation Area to Class A Provincial Park. However a portion of the Skagit watershed that was covered under a mineral tenure was left out of the new park. The mineral tenure area was completely surrounded by Skagit and Manning provincial parks and soon people were referring to it as the Donut Hole and the nick-name stuck. The 5,800 hectare Donut Hole is comprised of Smitheram Valley, Silverdaisy Valley and 26 Mile Valley. See locator map below.
At first logging was not allowed in the Donut Hole. But in 2003 the BC government quietly opened the forests in the Donut Hole to industrial logging, even though it had been designated important spotted owl habitat. At the Wilderness Committee we were surprised and shocked to discover a BC government approved logging operation inside the Donut Hole in 2004 chainsawing down spotted owl habitat forest. We protested the logging but were unable to stop it.
In 2008 the BC government designated all the lower slope forests within the Donut Hole as Wildlife Habitat Areas, fully protected for the conservation of spotted owl habitat.
This entire region in the Cascade Mountains, including the Donut Hole has been designated as BC’s top priority for grizzly bear recovery.
By the early summer of 2018 BC Timber Sales was back building logging roads in the Skagit Headwaters Donut Hole – this time in high elevation grizzly habitat. As soon as we found out about the new logging plans we scrambled to oppose them.
Then in late 2018 Imperial Metals applied for a 5-year exploration permit to drill for gold in the Donut Hole.
Our campaign focused on stopping the logging plans.
On December 4, 2019 as a result of a huge outpouring of public outrage and opposition to the logging, the BC government announced that no further logging would be allowed in the Donut Hole. We celebrated wildly!
We continued to push for the BC government to extinguish Imperial Metals' mine tenure and drilling plans - and then in partnership with First Nations designate the Donut Hole as a protected area.
On January 19, 2022 the BC government announced a deal that saw Imperial Metals relinquish all of their mine tenure in the Donut Hole. The announcement was super big news with many media outlets in Canada and the USA following the story. The BC government will now enter into discussions with First Nations about how best to protect the Skagit Headwaters region.
We threw our toques in the air and cheered at learning this wonderful news! People like you made this possible with your letters to government and your kind donations. YOU made this happen - so hats off to you!
The Wilderness Committee will now work to see as large a protected area as possible. See the centre page map of our 2019 Save the Skagit education report for the extent of the new protected area that we would like to see designated in a partnership between BC and indigenous communities.
Skagit Headwaters Donut Hole Maps
Google Map of Mining Activity in Skagit Headwaters Donut Hole
Interactive Google Map showing past mining activity and mine claims formerly owned by Imperial Metals in the Skagit Headwaters Donut Hole - now to be extinguished under the terms of an agreement with the government of BC made public January 19, 2022.
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Read the full paper here. Click here for the mobile-friendly version. End logging and mining threat The Skagit River rises in the Cascade Mountains from wetlands, rivulets and tarns located on both sides of the 49th parallel, eventually entering the Salish Sea near Mount Vernon, Washington. The area...