Current Threats to the Flathead
In the absence of permanent protection, the Flathead remains threatened by plans for industrial logging, new road access and trophy hunting of grizzlies and other animals. A recent study has confirmed that coal mining in the neighbouring Elk River Valley is poisoning wildlife habitat with toxic levels of selenium.
A National Park in the southeastern one-third of the Flathead and a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat will give permanent protection to this globally-significant area and its abundant wildlife.
World Heritage Committee Weighs In on Threats
In 2008, faced with a proposed mountain top removal coal mine in the Flathead, Sierra Club BC and other conservation groups petitioned the United Nations World Heritage Committee. We asked the committee to declare the Waterton-Glacier World Heritage Site, adjacent to the Flathead, a “World Heritage Site in Danger.” The committee voted unanimously to send a delegation to B.C. to investigate proposed Flathead energy and mining developments, and the negative impact they could have on Waterton-Glacier.
In July 2010, the World Heritage Committee mission released a report that said if the proposed coal mine went ahead it would be the basis for inscribing Waterton-Glacier on the list of World Heritage in Danger. That report called for a “conservation and wildlife management plan” for the transboundary Flathead. It recommended that steps be taken to mimize barriers to wildlife connectivity, including a long-term moratorium on further mining developments in southern B.C. It also called for a new management plan for the Flathead River Valley that “gives priority to natural ecological values and wildlife conservation.”
Click here to read the full report.
The mission report noted that “the Waterton-Glacier World Heritage property forms the core protected area in this regional ecosystem, and its natural integrity is inextricably linked with the neighbouring transboundary Flathead watershed.”
— Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin
Strong Public Support for Permanent Protection
Polling repeatedly shows that a majority of British Columbians—including East Kootenay residents—want to protect the Flathead River Valley permanently as a national park. A November 2009 poll showed that a majority of East Kootenay residents want to protect the Flathead River Valley as a national park. Almost 80 per cent of people polled believe there should be wildlife sanctuaries in southern B.C.
BioBlitzing the Flathead
The 2012 and 2013 Flathead BioBlitzes were organized by Flathead Wild, a coalition of organizations including Sierra Club BC.
The BioBlitz aims to shed light on the importance of the Flathead valley which contains enormous biodiversity and provides a critical link in the wildlife corridor that reaches from the Yukon to Yellowstone park.
Teams of scientists and citizen naturalists fan out in the valley, watershed and surrounding Rocky Mountains, cataloging the area’s remarkable biodiversity.
The 2012 Bioblitz revealed a number of rare and previously unrecorded species.Results from the 2013 BioBlitz will be posted on our website when released.
Conservation Photographers Help the Flathead
Members of the International League of Conservation Photographers gathered in the Flathead in July 2009 for a RAVE -- a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition. Their goal was to document the extraordinary natural values of the Flathead River Valley, and to draw international attention to energy and mining threats.
RAVE photographers fanned out over the valley, working in the early mornings and late evenings to capture the best light. They shot all sorts of images, from aerials to landscapes and specialized underwater river photography. One photographer who specializes in large mammals set up remote cameras to capture the many carnivores and ungulates that inhabit the Flathead. The photographers have donated their stunning images to Sierra Club BC and other environmental groups working to protect the Flathead River Valley. See the slideshow.
Mayors Help Launch "Friends of the Flathead"
Four prominent British Columbians used the occasion of Earth Day 2009 to kick off the on-line group “Friends of the Flathead”. The "Friends of the Flathead" website aims to show the B.C. government that people across the province demand permanent protection for the globally-significant Flathead River Valley.
"Friends of the Flathead" was launched by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, former federal Environment Minister David Anderson, and world-renowned mountaineer Pat Morrow. Become a Friend of the Flathead and receive bi-monthly updates with the latest Flathead news.