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Skagit River

The Skagit is a spectacular river in Southwestern BC that embodies the full range of natural, cultural, and recreational values celebrated by the Heritage Rivers System. The Skagit originates in the rugged North Cascades Mountains and winds south through a broad, u-shaped valley before crossing the 49th parallel into the United States. Most of the river travels through the US, reaching the Pacific Ocean at Mount Vernon, Washington.

The Skagit's rainshadow climate supports Ponderosa pine and several other plants of the BC Interior which reach their western limit here. There are also sites with unique wild rhododendrons in the Skagit valley. The watershed supports a wide variety of wildlife species, including healthy trout populations that attract thousands of fly fishers from the Lower Mainland. Other recreational pursuits in the valley include canoeing, kayaking, hiking, car camping, horseback riding, and nature study.

The human history of the Skagit is rich. It was an important food-gathering area for the Sto:lo First Nation and contains several archaeological sites and trade routes from that period. Americans seeking routes to the Fraser River gold rush built trails through the Skagit in the late 1850's. By 1911, three gold rush towns had been built on the Canadian side of the border before the boom was over. Ranchers and trappers came and went in the years following, but the valley remained largely wilderness until a logging road came into the main valley in 1946.

In the 1960's and '70's, the Skagit attained notoriety when activists lobbied to save the valley bottom from flooding by the proposed "High Ross Dam". The dam proposal would have flooded vast areas of Canadian and American territory, but was rejected in 1983. In that year, the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission (SEEC) was established to provide funding for education and environmental initiatives within the Skagit Watershed.

Today, the Canadian portion of the Skagit Watershed is almost entirely protected within the boundaries of three protected areas: Manning Provincial Park, Skagit Valley Provincial Park, and the Cascade Recreation Area.

Proclaimed B.C. Rivers: