Appeals to Transboundary Ecology: Cross-Border Advocacy at the Skagit Headwater Donut Hole
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.