Flathead Far from Permanently Protected

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Legislation and compensation deal merely ink last year’s announcement, say conservation groups

Legislation to prohibit mining and energy development in the Flathead River Valley is only the first of three steps the B.C. government must take to protect the Flathead permanently, say conservation groups.

 “The expected legislation is an important step, it does not equate to long-term conservation for the Flathead River Valley,” said Sierra Club BC spokesperson Sarah Cox. “It’s a complete stretch to say that the Flathead is forever protected.”

The B.C. government announced today that the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the U.S. Nature Conservancy will contribute $9.4 million in part to compensate mining companies in the Flathead, following last year’s government announcement that mining and energy development will be banned in the globally-significant area.

Logging, grizzly trophy hunting, quarrying and increased road access all continue to threaten the Flathead, adjacent to the Waterton-Glacier World Heritage Site.

Sierra Club BC, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Wildsight are calling for B.C. to follow the lead of Alberta and Montana and agree to a national park in the southeastern one-third of the Flathead, to fill in the missing piece of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The groups are also calling for a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the Flathead Valley and adjoining habitat, in keeping with recommendations made last year by a World Heritage Committee mission to the Flathead. 

 “We’re happy to see the commitment to a legislated prohibition on mining and oil and gas development,” said Casey Brennan, southern Rockies program manager for Wildsight.  “But it’s only one of three steps needed to protect the Flathead forever.” 

“The Flathead is a haven for grizzly bears and other large mammals,” said CPAWS BC Executive Director Chloe O’Loughlin. “It has some of the world’s purest water and contains almost 40 percent of all plant species found in B.C. This valley is precious on a global scale.”

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Contact:

Chloe O’Loughlin, CPAWS (604) 685-7445 x. 23

Casey Brennan, Wildsight: (250) 423-2603

Sarah Cox, Sierra Club BC:  (250) 812-1762