Eyebrows were raised

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In early December The Narwhal got an insider news tip that some “big, good news” was going to come from the provincial government within a few days.

Eyebrows were raised.

As were our suspicions.

‘Good news’ announcements from government are a strange thing for journalists because, more often than not, glossy government PR is designed to serve the interests of those in power, to seize a reporter’s attention, overemphasize favourable things and just, sort of, you know, not mention the unfavourable things.

In this instance the province of B.C. was celebrating what they considered a major conservation win: they were putting an end to controversial clear-cut logging in the ‘Doughnut Hole,’ an unprotected patch of mountainous forest nestled between two provincial parks.

The announcement was well received but it neglected to mention that while no more forestry would occur in this area, mining permits for the area, held by Imperial Metals, are still very much alive … as is the growing concern downstream of the Doughnut Hole, which is at the headwaters of the Skagit River, one of the most productive salmon rivers in the U.S.

The Narwhal jumped on the opportunity to tell the story behind the story of the ‘good news’ announcement, by traveling from the Doughnut Hole down the Skagit River south of the border to hear from those who stand to lose the most from tainted waters.

This week’s on-the-ground feature by journalist Christopher Pollon and photographer Fernando Lessa begins with e-bikes on a snowy mountaintop and ends at the Skagit estuary, where local tribes are joining Canadian First Nations in the fight against the Doughnut Hole mine.

Be sure to read on for much more this week.

Emma Gilchrist

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