Plans for intensive logging and road-building threaten Flathead River Valley
B.C.’s Flathead River Valley is targeted for intensive logging and much work remains to be done to protect it permanently, conservation groups said today.
“The ban on energy and mining development is a great first step, but the job is far from complete,” said Wildsight Executive Director John Bergenske. “B.C.’s Flathead merits the same high level of protection as the Waterton-Glacier World Heritage Site that adjoins it.”
“Preventing mountain top removal coal mining in the Flathead should not be equated with conservation,” said Sarah Cox of Sierra Club BC. “It’s a complete stretch to say that the Flathead is forever protected.”
In the absence of permanent protection, the Flathead is at risk from new logging and road-building which are already underway.
Sierra Club BC, Wildsight, and other conservation groups say that a National Park is needed in the south eastern one-third of the Flathead, to fill in the long-recognized missing piece of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The groups are also calling for a Wildlife Management Area in the Flathead and adjoining habit, in keeping with recommendations made by a 2010 World Heritage Committee report.
The Flathead has some of the world’s purest water, supports 40 percent of all plant species found in B.C., and is home to rare and at-risk wildlife like tailed frogs and wolverines. It forms a vital link in a globally-significant wildlife corridor that stretches from Glacier National Park in Montana to Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks.
Conservation groups working to protect the Flathead permanently also include the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, the National Parks Conservation Association and Headwaters Montana.
In 2009, 11 conservation groups on both sides of the border petitioned the United Nations World Heritage Committee to declare Waterton-Glacier a World Heritage Site in danger, due to a proposed mountain top removal coal mine in the Flathead and other planned energy and mining development. The involvement of the World Heritage Committee helped secure the 2011 legislated ban on energy and mining development in the B.C. Flathead.
“It’s time for B.C. to agree to permanent protection,” said Bergenske. “B.C. needs to step up and make its own contribution to the globally-significant Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and World Heritage Site.”
John Bergenske, Wildsight: (250) 422-3566 c (250) 489-9605
Sarah Cox, Sierra Club BC: c. (250) 812-1762