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British Columbia announces ban on mining, oil and gas in Flathead


Pre-Olympic throne speech has big news for wildlife, water and wilderness in B.C.’s Rockies

Victoria, B.C. — The news was unexpected—and it was big. The Province of British Columbia today announced a ban on all mining, oil and gas development in B.C.’s Flathead River Valley. The ban was announced by Lt.-Gov. Steven Point in a speech from the throne taking place just days before the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver.

The ban satisfies a major goal conservation groups have been working toward for several years in their bid to protect the globally-significant values of the Flathead River Valley.

“Mining, oil and gas development and coalbed gas extraction will not be permitted in British Columbia’s Flathead Valley,” said Point.

John Bergenske, executive director of Wildsight, praised the government’s initiative and saw it as a first step in thoroughly protecting the Flathead.

“This is an important announcement,” Bergenske said. “We applaud the government for doing the right thing for the Flathead River Valley. It’s a giant step, it’s in the right direction."

“We hope the government continues to listen to British Columbians and soon takes action to protect the Flathead permanently—in the form of a National Park and Wildlife Management Area,” said Sarah Cox, Sierra Club BC spokesperson.

Conservation groups urge that two further steps are critically important to the integrity of the Flathead/Crown of the Continent ecosystem. This ecosystem contains British Columbia’s most endangered river, the world’s first international peace park, and a biological richness that has scientists around the world supporting its protection.

“We look forward to working further with the provincial government to protect—in the strongest ways possible—the ecosystem and wildlife connectivity in the Rocky Mountains,” Bergenske said. “The next step is to connect the Flathead through the spine of the Rockies as a provincial wildlife management area so that wildlife values are adequately managed from Waterton-Glacier in the south to Banff/Jasper/Yoho/Kootenay in the north.”

Chloe O’Loughlin, executive director of CPAWS-BC, highlighted the century-old idea to create a Canadian national park in a portion of the Flathead River Valley.

“We believe it’s time for the government to heed the wishes of Canadians and create a national park in the lower one-third of B.C.’s Flathead River Valley,” she said. “This park would complete the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and World Heritage Site/Biosphere Reserve and maintain healthy wildlife populations in the face of climate change and habitat degradation.”

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club BC and Wildsight are encouraged by the provincial government’s announcement.

“It is the right move for the government to make,” Cox said. “Now we’re looking for them to complete the package—by creating a wildlife management area that protects connectivity and by establishing a national park—so the core values of the Flathead River Valley are protected for all Canadians and the world.”

Contact:

Chloe O’Loughlin,CPAWS-BC
(604) 685-7445 × 23
chloe@cpawsbc.org

John Bergenske, Wildsight Executive Director
(250) 422-3566
john@wildsight.ca

Sarah Cox, Sierra Club BC
(250) 386-5255 x. 257, c. (250) 812-1762
sarah@sierraclub.bc.ca