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Lack of protection in Canada’s Flathead Valley threatens Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

  • Published on Sep 24 2009 |
  • This article is tagged as: flathead, bc

CPAWS and other Conservation Groups Make Case to UN World Heritage Committee

Calgary, Alta—Leading conservation groups briefed reporters at 1 p.m. today in Calgary, before heading to Fernie, B.C., to advise UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee mission on threats to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The media briefing provided reporters with an advance look at the case being presented to these international experts, exposing alarming mining and energy proposals in the adjacent Flathead River Valley in British Columbia.

Representatives from the groups—the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Wildsight and Sierra Club BC—will present to the World Heritage Committee mission at noon Friday in Fernie, BC. Members of this international mission arrived in the area on Monday, and are spending this week investigating whether or not Waterton-Glacier should become a World Heritage Site in Danger because of BC’s land use plan for the adjoining Flathead River Valley.

“Coal strip mining and gold and phosphate exploration do not belong next to this internationally important area. It is so important to the international community that it has been designated a World Heritage Site, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and the world’s first International Peace Park,” said Eric Hebert-Daly, National Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “Some places should simply be off-limits to mining and energy development, and BC’s Flathead River Valley is one of them.”

Last week, the groups disclosed that the BC government has approved gold exploration this fall near a headwaters stream of the Flathead River, which flows into Glacier National Park.

BC’s Environmental Assessment Office is considering a coal strip mine that would see pollutants and slag from the removal of 40 million tonnes of coal dumped into Foisey Creek, a Flathead River headwaters stream that is critical habitat for threatened bull trout which migrate from Glacier National Park.

“BC’s land use plan for the Flathead threatens Waterton-Glacier and puts this spectacular World Heritage Site at risk,” said Sarah Cox, Flathead Campaign Director for Sierra Club BC. “It’s unconscionable for the BC government to consider allowing coal strip mining and gold mining next to a World Heritage Site.”

“The Flathead provides critical habitat for rare and endangered species moving between Waterton-Glacier and Banff National Parks, like grizzlies and grey wolves,” said Casey Brennan, Southern Rockies Program Manager for Wildsight. “It’s the missing piece of Waterton-Glacier and part of the same Crown of the Continent ecosystem.”

The groups are calling for the lower one-third of the Flathead River Valley to become a National Park, and for a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat.

The World Heritage Committee mission comes after 11 Canadian and US environmental groups petitioned the committee asking for the World Heritage Site in Danger designation due to mining and energy proposals in the Flathead River Valley, which abuts Waterton and the Alberta border.

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Contact:

Eric Hebert-Daly, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society: (613) 899-7226 (Cell)

Casey Brennan, Wildsight: (250) 423-0402

Sarah Cox, Sierra Club BC: (250) 812-1762

For images and footage contact Carrie West, CPAWS-BC: (604) 685-7445, ext. 22