How will the National Park affect hunting in the Flathead?

2/3rds of the Flathead River Valley not covered by the park would be open to hunting, as it has always been.


2/3rds of the Flathead River Valley not covered by the park would be open to hunting, as it has always been. Protected areas act as a source of animals to outlying areas and to the hunting public. The establishment of a National park Wilderness Reserve in the far southeastern 1/3 of the Flathead would increase hunting opportunities outside of the park boundaries.

Will forestry jobs be lost if a park is put in the Flathead?


Much of the merchantable timber in the proposed park area has either already been logged, or is currently being harvested. The remaining 2/3rds of the Flathead River Valley not covered by the proposed park would remain open to timber harvest as currently permitted.

I heard that National Parks are a “Death Zone” for Grizzly Bears. Is that true?


Yes and No…

A study conducted on grizzly bear mortality in National Parks concluded that there were unusually high mortality rates in National Parks. However, the primary cause was from impacts of highways and rail lines as well as encroachment of human settlements in bear habitat.

The proposed Flathead National Park Wilderness Reserve would have no permanent human habitation, no highways and no rail lines. It would therefore serve as a refuge and source for replenishing grizzlies in surrounding areas.

Will I be allowed to fish in the Flathead?


Yes, the 2/3rds of the Flathead River Valley not covered by the park would be open to fishing as currently permitted. Furthermore, the area covered by the park could also be open to fishing under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada.

Will guide outfitters be allowed to operate in the Flathead?


Yes, the 2/3rds of the Flathead River Valley not covered by the park would be open to guide outfitting as currently permitted. There would also be additional opportunities for non motorized non hunting guiding in the new park area.

Guide outfitters that have territory in the new park area would be compensated by Parks Canada as part of a 20 year phase out period.

Will I be allowed to ride my quad in the Flathead?


Yes, the 2/3rds of the Flathead River Valley not covered by the park would be open to access as currently permitted.

Will I be allowed to snowmobile in the Flathead?


Yes, the 2/3rds of the Flathead River Valley not covered by the park would be open to access as currently permitted. The area covered by the park would impact very little snowmobile use areas.

How will the communities in the Elk Valley benefit from a park in the Flathead?


Independent economic assessments of the proposed park demonstrate that a Flathead National Park Wilderness Reserve would benefit Elk Valley communities because of the federal investments made in those communities in support of the park, including new jobs and a National Park office. Additional economic benefits would include increased visitor spending and benefits of new residents moving to the region because of it's proximity to a National Park.

Wildlife in the Flathead is doing fine. Why do we need a National Park?


Yes, the wildlife in the Flathead is currently doing fine, due largely to the national parks of Waterton and Glacier that border it and that provide a refuge for wildlife.

A Flathead National Park Wilderness Reserve would expand that sanctuary and would represent B.C.'s contribution to ensuring that wildlife continue to thrive in the Flathead.  Every generation since Waterton was created has said that B.C. should add the "missing piece" of the Flathead to make Waterton Park complete.

Why would we want another Banff in the Flathead?


The National Park proposed for the Flathead would cover the southeastern 1/3rd of the Flathead River Valley. The park would be designated a Wilderness Reserve with no development outside of tent sites and trail maintenance. As such it would not remotely resemble Banff or the human development there.

What about First Nations in the area? Do they want a park?


The local first nations, the Ktunaxa, have supported the proposed Parks Canada feasibility study for the park; however, this is not an expression of support of the park itself.

Do the local communities support the park?


A 2008 poll of over 900 Kootenay residents found that 73% of residents in the Kootenays support protecting the far southeastern one third of the Flathead River Valley.

Only 16% of residents polled said they oppose a national park in the Flathead.

For more detailed information on the public sentiment, visit this page.

What is the next step to creating a National Park in the Flathead?


The next step is to proceed with the proposed Parks Canada Feasibility Study. The City of Fernie, Regional District of the East Kootenay and the Ktunaxa have agreed to proceed with the feasibility study. The Province of BC has yet to agree, and this is required before it can proceed.

What is a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study explores the option, through studies and consultations, of creating a national park. Is a national park both practical and desirable? Can the goals of a national park be achieved in the study area? Is broad, community-based support present, especially with local residents, First Nations and stakeholder groups?

A final decision is not made until the feasibility study has been completed.

Technical studies and research to better understand the area include information gathering and mapping on:

  • fisheries
  • water quality
  • marine biodiversity and habitat
  • marine transportation
  • recreation
  • cultural resources
  • economic resources and uses
  • other marine uses, and
  • potential for ecologically sustainable use

Why is it called the Flathead?


The name "Flathead" comes from what the first white men called the first nations in this region.

The name is often said to derive from the flat head produced by binding infants' skulls with boards. However, this is mistaken folk etymology, as the tribes never practiced head flattening. In fact, the Salish were called "flat head" precisely because the tops of their heads were not distorted, as were those of neighboring tribespeople who practiced vertical head-binding. The sign language used by neighboring tribes to distinguish the Flatheads consisted of "pressing each side of the head" with the hands. The Flatheads call themselves Salish meaning the people.

Who will take care of the park? Canada, or USA?


The details on the management of the park would be established through the Parks Canada Feasibility study process, in consultation with local stakeholders. As the park would be in Canada, it would fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Federal Government through Parks Canada.

However, the Flathead Park would likely be added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Peace Park and there would be much collaboration with the National Parks Service in the US on the co-management of the park.

Parks Canada would also likely base its management out of the existing Waterton National Park headquarters as the Flathead is adjacent to those facilities.

How big is the proposed park?


The Flathead River watershed is approximately 4,200 square kilometres, with 38% in Canada and 62% in the US. On the US side, about half of the watershed is included in Glacier National Park. On the Canadian side, nothing is currently protected.

The proposed park area would be approximately 500 square kilometres, covering one-third of the Canadian Flathead River Valley.

What makes it a 'peace' park? How is that different from any other park?



In 1932, the United States and Canada joined together to create the world's first International Peace Park: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

At the time of inscription, the Peace Park commemorated the peace and goodwill our two nations share.

The Peace Park designation is symbolic and does not have any different management objectives. However, the park is also a joint UNESCO World Heritage site which does require joint management of the two parks.

Why is the northern boundary of the park so much further north than the northern boundary of Waterton Lakes Park?


This is a proposed boundary. It takes into consideration the importance of this landscape for wildlife values. It also lines up with what would have been the northern boundary of Waterton had it not been reduced in size from its original proposal.  UPDATE:  In a recent land use planning update in Alberta a new protected area was added that lines up with the proposed new Flathead park!

What is a Wildlife Management Area (WMA)?

A conservation land requiring a special level of protection and management may sometimes be designated as a “wildlife management area.” This designation under Section 4 of the BC Wildlife Act gives the ministry additional tools to to manage the land and associated land uses. Wildlife management areas can be designated by the Minister of Environment with consent from the Lieutenant Governor in Council (i.e. the provincial cabinet), provided the Minister has administration of the land. A single wildlife management area may incorporate lands which the ministry has secured through acquisition, transfer of administration, or long term lease.
There are currently 23 wildlife management areas in BC, ranging in size from the 17-hectare Coquitlam River WMA to the 122,787-hectare Todagin WMA. For information on wildlife and habitat values and on other activities that may be taking place in specific wildlife management areas, click here. Other frequently asked questions about WMAs are answered below.

Who has management authority over a WMA?


The designation of a WMA does not affect any rights granted before the designation.

Any other activities that involve use of land or resources in a WMA require written permission from the Regional Manager, Environmental Steward Division, Ministry of Environment. The Regional Manager may establish orders that prohibit or restrict certain activities in a WMA which may affect wildlife or habitat.

The Minister or Cabinet may also make certain regulations respecting use or occupation of a WMA.

SOURCE: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/wma/

What types of activities are usually permitted in a WMA?


The activities specifically permitted or disallowed within a WMA vary depending primarily on the particular WMA management plan developed in consultation with conservation partners, stakeholders and the public.

Begin the conversation today.  Share your ideas here.

Generally, activities that are compatible with the objectives identified in the WMA Management Plan are permitted.

What areas does the WMA cover?


The Southern Rockies Wildlife Management Area (WMA) would cover the entire Flathead River watershed in BC, the Wigwam River, Bull River, West Elk Valley, Upper White and Kootenay Rivers, Weary-Aldridge and a strip along the continental divide including Alexander Creek.  These proposed boundaries were derived from recommendations in the leading report Safe Havens, Safe Passages for Vulnerable Fish and Wildlife. Critical Landscapes in the Southern Canadian Rockies, British Columbia and Montana.