Solutions for the Flathead
First Step: Mining & Energy Ban
In February 2010, after an intense campaign by Sierra Club BC and other groups, the B.C. government announced that the Flathead River Valley will be off-limits to mining and oil and gas development. On November 14, 2011, that ban became law. We applaud the legislated ban on mining and energy development as a 'great first step' for the Flathead.
The legislation follows a B.C. government decision, in December 2008, to exempt the Flathead from a controversial coalbed methane tenure it granted BP Canada.
Second Step: Wildlife Management Area
We are urging the B.C. government to establish a(WMA) in the rest of the Flathead River Valley and adjoining habitat. The WMA will preserve a critical part of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, which aims to safeguard North America’s largest remaining wildlife corridor. That corridor stretches from Glacier Park through the Rocky Mountains to Canada's Banff, Jasper and Kootenay National Parks.
A Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is an area whose wildlife or habitat values are of regional, provincial or national significance. The designation allows this conservation land a special level of protection and management. Activities permitted in B.C.’s Wildlife Management Areas differ from area to area, and are set in consultation with First Nations, local residents and other stakeholders. B.C. currently has 23 Wildlife Management Areas.
Third Step: National Park
Sierra Club BC and other conservation groups are calling for the south eastern one-third of the Flathead River Valley to be protected as a National Park, in order to ensure the highest level of protection in Canada. (Hunting, for instance, is not permitted in Canada’s national parks but is allowed in B.C. provincial parks.) The new Flathead River Valley National Park would allow traditional First Nations use and would become part of the adjacent International Peace Park -- Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana, which together form a United Nations World Heritage Site and two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. B.C.’s Flathead is part of the same Crown of the Continent ecosystem as Waterton-Glacier and merits the same level of protection.
The federal government has included the Flathead River Valley as part of its National Parks Action Plan. Approval from the B.C. government is needed for a National Park Feasibility Study — the first step towards creation of a new National Park or expansion of an existing park.