Fernie, BC -- The wilderness and wildlife in B.C.’s Southern Rockies are under threat by a new proposal for a long-term tourism operation in one of the most remote corners of the Flathead River Valley, warn conservation groups with the Flathead Wild coalition. The proposed development would involve building backcountry lodges and guest cabins and operating a year-round tourism business right in the heart of one of southern BC’s last remaining wild landscapes, threatening grizzly bears, wolverines, and wildlife of all kinds.
“A development of this size in a place as sensitive and important as the Flathead is completely inappropriate, and must be stopped. Maintaining the backcountry characteristics of the region is absolutely essential to keeping these ecosystems intact and wildlife populations healthy in this critical part of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor,” says Candace Batycki, BC and Yukon Program Director for Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
The proposal, funded by a tourism operator in Waterton National Park, would see 2 lodges and 22 cabins built right on the edge of a provincial wilderness park, leading to an unprecedented increase in human activity in a place that currently has no human settlement and sees very few visitors. This area supports globally-significant ecosystems and wildlife populations that are incredibly sensitive to human disturbance.
“It would be a major blow for these wildlife populations, not just in the Flathead but throughout the Southern Rockies region, to allow a development like this to go ahead, not to mention inconsistent with government policy and land-use planning for the region. Under no circumstances should this be approved,” says Ryland Nelson, Southern Rockies Program Manager for Wildsight.
The area is the focus of a long-standing campaign for legislated protection in the Flathead Valley as a new wilderness protected area, which would permanently protect its ecological values and secure important, intact habitat for wildlife in the long term. If approved, this proposal would make it impossible to establish a true wilderness protected area in the future.
“The Flathead Valley needs permanent protection for its wildlife and biodiversity, not tourist lodges, cabins and guided tours. Kept wild, this area can and should be protected into the future,” says Jessie Corey, Terrestrial Conservation Manager for CPAWS-BC.
For more information on the campaign to permanently protect the Flathead Valley from harmful developments like this, visit www.flathead.ca.
For interviews, contact:
Candace Batycki – Program Director, British Columbia and Yukon
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
Southern Rockies Program Manager – Wildsight
(250) 531 - 0445
Terrestrial Conservation Manager – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC)
(604) 685-7445 ext 25
Detailed technical comments from the Flathead Wild coalition to the BC Lands Tenure Branch on this proposal are accessible here: http://bit.ly/2sPc3mv
Flathead Wild is a transboundary coalition of six conservation groups in Canada and the US:Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - BC Chapter, Headwaters Montana, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club BC, Wildsight, and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. The groups have been working together for over a decade to defend the globally significant rivers, water quality, and wildlife of the Flathead and Elk Valleys, and to protect the critical wildlife connectivity corridor through the transboundary Rocky Mountains.