The Upper Skagit watershed is a diverse basin covering portions of the coast and interior of British Columbia. Almost 70 percent of the watershed is protected in Canada, and the United States portion falls within National Park and National Forest boundaries. The headwaters of the Skagit begin in the Hozameen Range of the Cascades and flow to meet the Sumallo River, almost doubling in volume. The watershed transitions from the dry climate of the eastern Cascades to the wet temperate zone on the western side, making the Skagit Valley a unique habitat for many species. Six of the province’s biogeoclimatic zones are represented in the basin, including interior mountain-heather alpine (IMA) and Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir (ESSF).
The Skagit basin has the highest diversity of trees in all of British Columbia, and supports some invertebrates endemic to the Cascade region in addition to over 200 species of birds, over 50 species of mammals, and various reptiles, fish, and amphibians.
- Counties: Chelan, Okanogan, Skagit, Whatcom
- National Estuary Programs: Puget Sound
- Other Watersheds Upstream: Sauk, Similkameen
- Other Watersheds Downstream: Fraser, Lower Skagit
A 2014 report by the North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership identifies climate change issues relevant to resource management in the North Cascades, and recommends solutions that will facilitate the transition of the diverse ecosystems of this region into a warmer climate.
The Upper Skagit tribe includes descendants from 11 villages in the Upper Skagit and Samish watersheds. Although the tribe signed the treaty of Point Elliott, no reservation was established, and members refused to leave the region. Today, the tribe's population is scattered among different towns, including Sedro-Woolley, Mount Vernon, and Newhalem.
Upper Skagit Area of Concern: