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New poll shows strong local support for Flathead national park


Eyes of World Focus on Flathead Following United Nations Visit

East Kootenay residents support a National Park in the southeastern one-third of B.C.\'s Flathead River Valley at a rate of 2 to 1, according to a poll released today.

The poll, conducted in late October by McAllister Opinion Research, also found that 77 per cent of East Kootenay residents support the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries in south eastern BC that would be off-limits to hunting and heavy industry.

“People who live in the East Kootenay know the Flathead River Valley deserves permanent protection and that wildlife urgently need safe havens,” said Casey Brennan, Wildsight’s Southern Rockies program manager. “These polling results confirm the impression we get from talking to local residents— that a strong majority support a Flathead National Park and creation of wildlife sanctuaries, even though a small but vocal opposition likes to claim otherwise.”

The Flathead River Valley, in BC’s southeast corner, has come under intense international scrutiny because of plans for coal strip mining and other development in this critical wildlife corridor, which adjoins Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park — a World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In late September, the World Heritage Committee sent a mission to Waterton-Glacier and the Flathead to determine if the world’s first international peace park is at risk from proposed Flathead energy and mining developments. The mission’s report has not yet been completed.

“BC’s land use plan for the Flathead is completely incompatible with the values of the adjoining World Heritage Site,” said Sierra Club BC spokesperson Sarah Cox. “Our international reputation could be at risk on the eve of the Olympic Winter Games if the province continues with its foolhardy plan to prioritize mining and energy development in this special place.”

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-BC (CPAWS BC), Sierra Club BC, and Wildsight are asking for a National Park in the southeastern one-third of BC’s Flathead River Valley, to complete the Waterton- Glacier World Heritage Site. The conservation groups also want BC to establish a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the Flathead River Valley and adjoining habitat.

“The Flathead provides critical habitat for rare and at-risk species that migrate to and from Waterton- Glacier, and it has the highest density of grizzly bears in the interior of North America,” said Chloe O’Loughlin, CPAWS-BC Executive Director. “We’re asking the BC government to do its part to protect this globally-significant wildlife area, and the very first step is to declare an immediate no-staking reserve in the valley."

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For Flathead wilderness and wildlife photographs taken by members of the International League of Conservation Photographers see: http://gallery.me.com/ilcp All photos are freely available for use by media.

Contact:
Chloe O’Loughlin, CPAWS: (604) 685-7445 × 23
Sarah Cox, Sierra Club BC: (250) 386-5255 × 257, c. (250) 812-1762
Casey Brennan, Wildsight: c. (250) 423-0402