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Biologists, artists, and international feasts, oh my!

By Elyse Curley, Terrestrial Conservation Coordinator, CPAWS-BC

This past August I headed into B.C.’s Flathead Valley for the first time. Wow, was it ever incredible! CPAWS and the rest of the Flathead Wild team held a number of events to celebrate this amazing place and raise awareness of what’s at stake if it’s not protected. We held the B.C. Flathead’s first ever Bioblitz, invited artists to become inspired by its beauty, held a delicious feast right on the border of Montana and B.C., and of course had some time to hike up Mt. Hefty for a stunning view of the valley (see some of the Flathead Wild team pictured on Mt. Hefty below - the Flathead Valley is in the background).

Bioblitz and Artists’ Retreat

The Flathead Bioblitz attracted biologists from many backgrounds who spent days tallying the plants and animals they found. Highlights include spotting a pair of trumpeter swans and watching one of the scientists step out into the river directly in front of camp to find the river swarming with mayfly and caddisfly larvae. If you don’t think larvae are cool – check out what caddisfly larvae make their casings out of in the photo directly below… amazing.

We had a photographer in attendance throughout the events who took some great photos of the insects that were found and some stunning aerial shots of the valley. You can see a selection of the photos here.

The event was a huge success and everyone had a great time. A large diversity of species was found, providing further support to the notion that B.C.’s Flathead Valley is a biological hotspot in need of permanent protection.

Directly after the Bioblitz, an Artists’ Retreat was held where a number of artists spent the weekend in the Flathead, immersing themselves in its beauty. The artists will each produce and donate at least one piece of art to a Flathead art exhibition. Dwayne Harty, a well accomplished wildlife artist, led a public workshop on painting en plein air and completed an awe-inspiring painting along the river at the campsite in only a couple of hours.

Flathead Transborder Feast

To sum up the week of events and to celebrate the transborder nature of the campaign, a feast was held at the border. Close to 100 people came out to dine on long tables that met at the Canada/US border. Wildflowers, curries, and organic yak burgers adorned the tables, and there was lots of conversation about conservation (and other fun topics). At one point in the evening, a mule dear bolted across the border into Canada. The dinner party attendees cheered as this single event proved the very reason for the feast. Wildlife know no borders – we need to work together to ensure that wildlife are protected no matter which side of the border they choose to eat on!

For more information about the Flathead and to stay updated on the team’s progress – check out

Photo credits: Elyse Curley; Michael Ready, iLCP; Jaime Rojo