Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date

Spring 2023


Environmental Advocacy, British Columbia, Skagit River, Regional Media, Environment


The Pacific Northwest’s regional news media has directed significant attention toward the Skagit River watershed since 2019 because of a controversial, long-simmering mining proposal at the international border dividing British Columbia and Washington State. At the center of this controversy sits the so-called “Donut Hole”—an area of 5,800 unprotected hectares situated between two B.C. provincial parks—Skagit Valley and Manning—located at the headwaters of the Skagit watershed.

As a result of concerns about impacts to wildlife and the surrounding North Cascades ecosystem, opposition to the project was substantial, led by environmental advocates representing a wide range of ecological, recreational, and community interests. In turn, they harnessed media coverage, digital communication, and live-time events to facilitate a larger, regional dialogue about the importance of the cross-border Skagit watershed for larger parts of British Columbia and Washington state, as well as for Canada and the U.S.

This study is therefore interested in not only the cross-border dimensions of such ecological engagement, but also the communication variables that helped to drive this larger, multi-stakeholder advocacy. It examines the strategic communication emanating from environmental advocates on both sides of the U.S./Canada border; and their public communication that toggled between the international and hyperlocal, as well informational and rhetorical.




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